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LE NEWSLETTER

August 20, 2009

NOW the weather gets better?  From humid and stormy to humid and sunny ... sometimes.  Well, better late than never I guess.  I've had an incredibly busy summer ... is anyone else feeling burned out?  Need a staycation in quick order ... well the weekend is right around the corner!  Well, take your time and

casually stroll into your weekly entertainment newsletter!

And don't forget to ADD ME to your
Facebook by clicking on the icon here or on my site!!   

Now, check out all the exciting news so please take a walk into your weekly entertainment news!

::TOP STORIES::

Usain Bolt Sets Record At World Championships

Source:  www.thestar.com - Raf Casert, Associated Press

(Aug 16, 2009) BERLIN–Usain Bolt saved the celebration for after the finish line this time and showed that, yes, he can keep breaking that world record.

He obliterated it, in fact.

Bolt ran 100 meters in 9.58 seconds Sunday at world championships, turning his showdown against Tyson Gay into a rout and putting to rest the questions that went unanswered last time he set the record – at his showboating Olympic run of 9.69 seconds.

Yes, he can do better when he goes all out the whole way. Yes, he can break 9.6.

It was the biggest change in the record since electronic time was introduced in 1968. It came very close to the 9.55-second time that an American professor said Bolt would have run in Beijing had he run all out in the Olympic 100 finals.

Under ideal conditions and facing the toughest competition possible, Bolt blew away his own world record by .11 seconds on the one-year anniversary of the last world record. Gay, meanwhile, set the American record by finishing in 9.71, a time that would have been a world record 12 months and one day ago, but was an afterthought instead.

Asafa Powell of Jamaica took bronze in 9.84.

In Beijing, Bolt was coasting after 70 meters, but on the deep indigo blue track in Berlin, Gay pushed him as far as he could – to no avail.

Gay stayed with him over the first part of the race but once Bolt unfurled that huge stride of his, there was no contest.

"Awesome," Powell said.

Bolt glanced quickly to his right at 90 meters to check on Gay, then left, at the scoreboard, as he crossed the line and then pounded his chest when he saw the record time flash up.

Troubled by a nagging groin pain, Gay had to cut practice on his start and it showed. He needed to get out the fastest by far but was never able to shake the Olympic champion.

"I put everything into it. But I came in second," Gay said. "I can definitely run faster."

Bolt demonstrated his confidence by play-acting hours ahead of race, and the fact that he never saw Gay ahead of him early on had to give him a bigger boost.

The crowd of 55,000 at the Olympic Stadium roared at the end of the most anticipated race since the Olympics.

The record time was hard to believe even with Bolt's knack for the unimaginable.

He grabbed a flag, hugged Powell, with whom he had been literally shadowboxing for fun just before the start. They wrapped themselves in the Jamaican flag, and it looked like the Bird's Nest all over again.

Earlier, the Jamaican and American women had a sprint rivalry of their own. Kerron Stewart ran 10.92 in the 100 for the best time, leading a Jamaican team effort that placed three of their runners in the top four. Carmelita Jeter of the United States was second in 10.94. The final is Monday.

Overall, Jamaica won five of six sprint titles in Beijing and left the U.S. team without a single gold.

Russia became the first nation with double gold when Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina won the women's 20-kilometre walk, defending her world championship title from two years ago.

Olympic champion Valeriy Borchin of Russia took gold in the men's 20k walk Saturday.

Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon, leading the seven-discipline event from start to finish. Valerie Vili of New Zealand won the women's shot put.

Olympic Family Draws Strength From Mother's Love

Source: www.thestar.com - Randy Starkman, Sports Reporter

(August 18, 2009)  As Mom to three Olympians, she provided the soft side to Dad's fiery competitiveness. She thought nothing of bringing a homeless person in for a hot meal and a bed.

Now,
Linda Penner has cancer and her children are seeing the steel they always knew was there, too.

They're having to show their mettle as well.

Amanda Overland, silver medallist at the Turin Olympics, is battling for a berth for the 2010 Winter Games right now in Vancouver. Her brother, Kevin Crockett, Olympic bronze medallist in 1998, coaches a Chinese skater who is among the favourites for gold in February. Their sister Cindy, a former Olympian, is their mom's primary caregiver.

They are a fractured family which somehow managed to operate as a whole, though never more than now. The parents separated when the kids were young and they were raised in Kitchener by their father Ernie Overland, but their bond with their mother remained strong, even when she lived in B.C.

"We all depend on our mother, love her and are really connected with her," said Crockett, who changed his last name in 2002 to honour his grandfather. "That hasn't changed at all right now with her illness. I think it's bringing out the best in us, to be honest."

A diagnosis of lung cancer was made in early May. The tumour had grown to a point that it broke one of Penner's ribs. There have been some good signs, such as a recent test for fluid in her lungs that came back negative, but Crockett said the situation is on the "red line of being terminal."

"That's where all the pressure comes in," said Crockett, who is with his mother this week at her home in Kitchener.

Amanda Overland, the youngest at 27, said it was a shock at first seeing her mother, who'd always been bigger than her, shrink dramatically while undergoing chemotherapy. She's tried to commute as often as possible from her training base in Montreal to visit her mother.

But she was also preparing for the Olympic short track speed skating trials in Vancouver, an excruciatingly tense 10-day test to determine the team. Overland is in a good position to qualify heading into the final two days.

Some of the most important support came from skaters against whom she's battling for a spot. At a training camp in Vancouver shortly after getting the terrible news, teammates gave her a notebook in which each penned a page-long message saying they would be there for her.

"I was struggling," she said. "I would be coming to training and being sick to my stomach. You don't know, right. I'd never experienced it. My grandma, my mom's mom, had cancer, but she died in a couple of months. We didn't see her get sick, really."

She has found comfort in her older siblings; Kevin, not afraid to show his feelings, and Cindy, the calm one.

"Honestly, they are my rock, both of them and in different ways," said Amanda.

This family knows tough times. Money was always tight. Crockett wanted to play hockey, but the resources weren't there. Their car was forever breaking down on the way to speed skating practice, forcing them to run the rest of the way.

Ernie Overland, an ex-boxer who worked the night shift at J.M. Schneider's in Kitchener, got his kids into speed skating at the suggestion of a co-worker. He was their coach, too, even building a little speed skating oval in their backyard. He set it up around two clothesline posts, built up snow banks around it and flooded it with a hose.

"Mom would always be there after with the hot cocoa, marshmallows and the camera," said Crockett.

Her kindness extended beyond her family. A dedicated Christian who was raised as a Lutheran, she would share the family home with people who needed help.

"We would have a homeless person stay with us while that person cleaned up," said Crockett. "We would give a little pocket money and they'd have a meal with us. We weren't rich. I think it's a really, really amazing gesture and I think that's something that shows how good of a person she is. You can say it. But she lived it with her actions."

Crockett says it's easier for him to cope than it is for his youngest sister because he doesn't have to rely on physical ability in his job. His group of skaters, including gold-medal contender Wang Beixing in the women's 500 metres, help take the heat off him.

"I'm fortunate to have a mature enough team where they understand that I may have to leave once in a while," he said. "I'm not going off to the tropics to party. I'm going to go home to carry my mom to the bathroom because she can't walk."

But there's a constant guilt about being so far away.

"If my mom wanted me to stay home for the rest of the season, I'd give up coaching in a second," said Crockett. "But she wouldn't allow that to happen."

Her initial shock over, Amanda Overland said she's now drawing strength from the situation as she battles for her Olympics spot.

"I see her being tough with her chemo. I see her being the soldier that she always has been. In my eyes, my mom's always been a very tough woman and she's showing it during this time."

Lawrence Hill's Book Of Negroes Set For Film

Source: www.globeandmail.com
John Barber

(August 19, 2009) A chance meeting at a Toronto bookstore produced a deal to bring author Lawrence Hill's bestselling novel The Book of Negroes to the screen in an international co-production.

Film director
Clement Virgo of Conquering Lion Pictures said he was browsing at This Ain't the Rosedale Library when singer Molly Johnson approached him to demand that he read Hill's acclaimed novel. “She literally followed me around the store,” Virgo says, “so I bought the book. Then I found I couldn't put it down.”

And he was astonished to discover that no moviemaker had yet snapped up the rights.

A historical saga with action that spans colonial North America, Europe and Africa, The Book of Negroes (published in the United States as Someone Knows My Name) is narrated by an indomitable heroine who struggles to win her freedom after being sold into slavery as a youth. More than 300,000 copies have been sold in Canada, where it won this year's annual Canada Reads contest. The book also won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2008 and has earned rave reviews internationally.

The scale and setting of the work mark a change for Virgo, whose films so far have been urban and contemporary, most recently Poor Boy's Game , a boxing drama set in 1990s Halifax. “It's a bigger project, but I feel it's timely,” he said, comparing the upcoming adaptation to Roots, the seminal slave drama of the 1970s. “It's an opportune moment to take this wonderful book to the screen.”

Early anticipation centres on the question of who will play Aminata Diallo, a heroine the Literary Review of Canada called “an amazing literary creation.”

“I think there's going to be a brawl for this part,” Virgo said, adding that he hopes to secure financing for the project in upcoming meetings at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Ukulele Girl Strumming Her Way To Helsinki

Source: www.globeandmail.com
Brad Wheeler

(August 19, 2009) It's been 40 years since Tiny Tim's televised marriage ceremony on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show . But the tiny instrument he strummed for his falsetto version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips is making noise again. The ukulele is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, thanks to the likes of Shelley O'Brien, a Toronto-based, B.C.-raised ukulele player. She recently released an enchanting album of quirky pop music, You, Me and the Birds , and is currently in Europe carrying her custom-made “uke” toward the Second Helsinki International Ukulele Festival (Aug. 21-23), where she'll be the lone Canadian representative.

O'Brien plays as she goes: Monday it was a public market in Reykjavik, Iceland – “I sold CDs in the sunshine” – and tomorrow it's the Netherlands. When asked about that nation's famous flowers, she does some tiptoeing herself, good-naturedly but pointedly informing her interviewer that tulips are indigenous to the former Persian empire, not the Netherlands, and that the clichés associated with ukulele music are erroneous, too. “Some people treat you as a novelty act,” says O'Brien on the phone. “But really, if they listen to the album, they'll realize it's a legitimate Canadian folk music. I just happen to use a sweet little Hawaiian instrument.”

O'Brien's album is textured with an orchestra of various instruments and found sounds. There's a touch of melancholy to her voice – a tone that's offset by the uke's twinkling toyish timbre. O'Brien, schooled in piano, maintains that the small, charismatic instrument was integral. “It adds a specific colour,” she says. “A lot of the songs could not have been written if I didn't play the ukulele.”

“ It's a legitimate Canadian folk music. I just happen to use a sweet little Hawaiian instrument. ”

In Helsinki, O'Brien, who formerly sang jazz on cruise ships and currently works as an assistant to a Bay Street bank president, will not be a lonely strummer. The city has given over an open-air stage for performances, and a historic theatre will host a ukulele film festival showcasing features such as Rock That Uke , which examines the use of the ukulele by alternative-rock musicians.

Closer to home, you'll find O'Brien and dozens of other players on Wednesdays at Toronto's Dominion Pub, venue for the weekly Corktown Ukulele Jam. The organizers also recently hired a vintage streetcar for a rolling ukulele party. “People were mad when the streetcar wouldn't stop,” says O'Brien with a laugh.

If people were mad, though, it was just for a moment. They would have heard the high spirit, smiling as the noise passed them. “It's the tone, it's the smallness of the instrument,” says O'Brien. “It's glee – pure glee.”

::TRAVEL::

Pre-Dawn Climb Reveals `Sun-Sational' View

Source: www.thestar.com – Tammy Burns,
Special To The Star

(August 15, 2009) GUNUNG BATUR, BALI–Panting and gasping, I attempt to scramble up the steep slope, slipping and stumbling on the rocks, fumbling in the darkness.

Our guide bounds effortlessly ahead of us.

It's 4:30 a.m., and midway into our climb up the volcano Gunung Batur in northern
Bali, where we plan to watch the sunrise from the summit.

I'm grateful for the darkness because I can't see how high we are, or how much farther we have to climb. Even without seeing, I can feel that the path is getting steeper. It's narrow and I trip over hunks of jagged rock. Our guide shoots out a hand to pull me upward.

Sunrise treks up the volcano begin at around 3:30 a.m. and take about two hours to reach the summit.

The hike is fairly easy at the beginning, but the loose sand and steep slope can make for treacherous climbing. To make matters more dangerous, there are frequent quakes and tremors in the area, and the volcano erupts every few years.

As I slip and slide my way up the hillside and think of the hot magma chambers deep beneath my feet, I'm grateful for our guide's knowledgeable lead.

We arrive at the summit shortly before 6 a.m., just in time to see the first rays of orange and pink sunshine peaking over the horizon.

There's a small hut at the top of the mountain and we go inside where we enjoy a breakfast of strong coffee and sticky buns, then go out to join the dozen or so others lined along the volcano's edge.

As the light slowly grows, the view opens up to reveal thick green forests, broken chunks of solid lava scattered down the hillside, and morning mist drifting up from Lake Batur far beneath us.

From somewhere within the smattering of rooftops in the village of Toya Bungkah below, a rooster crows, the sound echoing off the mountains. Behind us, a few metres away from our perch on the summit's edge, the ground gives way to an enormous crater. We tiptoe cautiously to the crater's edge and peer over at the barren, rocky valley; insides black with hardened lava and ash, specks of greenery peeking through the tar, and the occasional pocket of steam billowing up from the ground.

Nearby, a guide is bent over a smoking hole, cooking eggs in the steam.

The area around Batur is a geological rarity. Referred to as a "double caldera," it's essentially one crater inside another crater.

Batur first erupted close to 30,000 years ago and again 10,000 years after that – both times resulting in collapsed calderas.

From atop the mountain, I can see the walls of the larger caldera around us – 14 kilometres across and 7 1/2 kilometres wide. It looks as if the peak we're on rises up from a valley, when really it is rising up from the crater of a prehistoric volcano.

Gunung Batur is Bali's most active volcano, and has regularly erupted over the past 200 years, creating one main crater and three sub-craters.

The most recent eruption was in 2000, but as we walk across the hilly summit, our guide tells us instead about the famous "Lucky Temple" eruption in the mid-70s, lava poured down the hillside, wiping out an entire village but curving perfectly around the temple, leaving it completely unharmed.

It's an appropriate tale, as the Balinese people consider Batur to be a sacred religious site. As if to demonstrate the mountain's powers, our guide leads us into a small, open cave.

Hot, sulphuric water drips down from the ceiling, and our guide tells us how the locals regularly climb the mountain to collect bottles of this holy water for temple ceremonies.

We emerge from the cave and spend the rest of the morning being led along narrow ridges, steep drops, and black lava fields.

Across the valley, the immense Gunung Agung stands stoically.

At 2,153 metres, it is Bali's highest and most sacred mountain, and it towers over Batur. Our guide sees us looking up at it.

"I take tourists up there," he says. "It takes eight hours. Would you like to go?"

Looking down over the two-hour path we had trekked this morning, I shake my head no.

True, the view up here is beautiful and my sense of adventure devilishly craves more, but my legs would never forgive me.

Tammy Burns is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

Caribbean Tourism Organization Names Hugh Riley Secretary General

Source: Caribbean Tourism Organization

(Aug 17, 2009) BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has announced the appointment of a new Secretary General.  He is Barbadian Hugh Riley who has been the organization’s Interim Secretary General for the past several months. 

In making the announcement the CTO’s Chairman, Hon. John Maginley, who is Minister of Tourism for Antigua & Barbuda, described Mr. Riley as an experienced Caribbean tourism professional with a clear vision of how to move the tourism sector forward.

“I am pleased to announce that after an extensive search and a thorough selection process, the CTO Council of Ministers has offered Mr. Riley the position of Secretary General and he has accepted,” Minister Maginley said.

“Mr. Riley has an intimate knowledge of the tourism industry and a sound strategic vision for what the region’s tourism sector needs in order to remain competitive and to thrive, particularly in these trying times.  We are confident that he is up to the challenge,” Chairman Maginley added.

Mr. Riley’s appointment takes effect from August 17th.  As the organization’s chief executive officer he will oversee the CTO’s offices in Barbados, North America, the UK and Europe, succeeding the late Arley Sobers and the Hon. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace. He will also lead the organization’s initiatives to strengthen relations with our strategic partners, including the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

CTO, as the region’s tourism development agency, provides research, human resources, marketing, communications and technology services internationally to its public and private sector members.  CTO has been in the forefront of recent efforts to interface with the governments of the US and UK on a range of issues affecting Caribbean tourism.

About the Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with the headquarters in Barbados and marketing operations in New York, London and Toronto, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency and comprises membership of over 30 governments and a myriad of private sector entities.

The CTO’s mission is to provide to and through its members, the services and information needed for the development of sustainable tourism for the economic and social benefit of the Caribbean people.

The organization provides specialized support and technical assistance to member countries in the areas of marketing, human resource development, research and statistics, information technology and sustainable tourism development.  The CTO disseminates information on behalf of its member governments to consumers and the travel trade.

The CTO’s New York office is located at 80 Broad St., 32nd Floor, New York, NY 10004, USA: Tel: (212) 635-9530; Fax: (212) 635-9511; E-mail: ctony@caribtourism.com; CTO’s London office is located at The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1BP, England. Tel: 011 44 208 948 0057; Fax: 011 44 208 948 0067; E-mail: ctolondon@caribtourism.com; CTO Canada is located at 2 Bloor Street West, Suite 2601, Toronto, Ont. M4W 3E2, Canada. Tel: (416) 935 0767; Fax: (416) 935-0939; E-mail: ctotoronto@caribtourism.com. CTO Headquarters is located at One Financial Place, Collymore Rock, St, Michael, Barbados; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: ctobarbados@caribtourism.com. For more information, please visit www.caribbeantravel.com or www.onecaribbean.org.

::MUSIC NEWS::

Where Kung Fu Meets Hip Hop

Source: www.thestar.com - Debra Black,
Staff Reporter

(August 17, 2009) About 15 men and women dressed in white pants clap hands and stand in a circle as they sing a Brazilian song and listen to the beat of a drum.

Two of them enter the centre of the circle and crouch down. They perform a series of three moves: a golpe, or kick; a skiva, or dodging motion; and a shinga, a side-to-side motion.

One does a back flip and the other does a front flip. All legs, extended arms and arched backs – the capoeira dancers look part kung-fu warriors, part hip hop dancers.

As they dance, a capoeirista beats the atabaque, a drum made of wood, rope and animal skin. A second plays tambourine and two more play berimbaus – a guitar or bow made of a gourd and string.

Welcome to the captivating world of capoeira – part marital arts, part acrobatics and part dance. It has its roots in African slave communities of Brazil. Once practised only by that country's poor, it has grown into an international phenomenon.

And thanks in part to So You Think You Can Dance Canada, which featured it last season, capoeira has become a favourite pastime in the GTA.

The number of students at Axe Capoeira, near St. Clair Ave. W. and Dufferin St., has tripled to 150 over the past couple of years. And new studios are popping up alongside established schools, with classes offered in Toronto, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Brampton and Burlington.

What's the appeal? Students and teachers agree: It's the vibrancy, openness and warmth of Brazilian culture combined with fitness, music and dance mixed with Afro-Brazilian spirituality. And it is universal, attracting men, women, young, old and all ethnic groups.

"Capoeira today is growing, not only in Canada but all over the world," says Marinaldo Da Silva, who came to Canada from Brazil in 1995. To the 32-year-old, capoeira is a way of life. "Every single country you go to there is capoeira. People are really passionate about it."

Makeup artist Tali Kalb calls capoeira a "whole mind, body, soul experience." The thirtysomething started taking classes a year ago.

"It stops you from thinking," she explains. "You just focus on what you're doing that moment ... It's all about being in the moment."

Tiana Quintero, a 33-year-old administrative assistant from Toronto, first saw capoeira on the streets of Little Italy. She was hooked immediately.

"I had to do it," said Quintero. "It was something I needed."

Da Silva, who is known in capoeira circles as Contra Mestre Bola, understands their passion. He began studying when he was a young boy in Recife, Brazil.

"I quit soccer to play capoeira," he explained. "I fell in love with it – the movement, the kicks, the acrobatics. I came from a poor family in Brazil, if it wasn't for capoeira I wouldn't be where I am today."

Now it's his responsibility to pass on capoeira, part of his heritage and culture, says Da Silva, who has a studio near Bloor St. W. and Lansdowne Ave.

"Toronto is a multicultural city already, but it (capoeira) makes the city even more diverse," says Marcos Martins, head of Axe Capoeira, Toronto's largest studio. "Brazilian culture is really widely accepted and people really enjoy it."

He adds: "When people think Brazil, they think dance music, happiness and sun."

Stacey Armstrong, 32, can't imagine his life without capoeira. "Capoeira is very artistic," said Armstrong, who has studied with Da Silva for nine years. "That was the first thing that drew me in. I used to play a drum kit when I was a kid."

He continues: "When I found out that capoeira had a musical component and it was percussion that was very compelling." Armstrong says even after so many years of study, capoeira gives him "goosebumps."

UOMO Media's The NE Inc. Wins MMVA for "UR Fave Video"

Source:  www.yahoo.com

(June 25, 2009) TORONTO, ONTARIO - The NE Inc., a fully-owned subsidiary of UOMO Media Inc., a multi-channel entertainment company, announced today that Randall (RT!) Thorne, won "UR Fave Video of the Year" at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards for his direction of "Save You" from Simple Plan. To celebrate the award win, The NE Inc. announced a full slate of music videos in production including MMVA winner Danny Fernandes, Julie Doiron, Joel Plaskett, Ivana Santilli, and DRU.

"We are going to be working hard this summer continuing to pump out our regular top notch level video production for the biggest musical talents," said John Nadalin, President, The NE Inc. "We are also thrilled for RT! and the guys of Simple Plan for winning "UR Fave Video" - it is a powerful video that resonated with the fans. The win also continues RT!'s fourth year of consecutive MMVA wins which is amazing for us, and just shows the award worthy level of quality we produce consistently."

Randall (RT!) Thorne is working on videos for Danny Fernandes, Zaki Ibrahim, Ryan Dan, Trish, Joel Plaskett. In the coming months he will be working on videos for Shawn Desman, Belly and LOKZ.

The NE Inc.'s Cazhhmere is directing videos for Ghetto Child, DRU, JB, The Got That Boys ft. DRU, Ivana Santilli and Jordan Croucher. Marc Andre Debruyne is directing videos for Grand Analog, RG, Protest the Hero, and Chris Labelle.

Over the summer, director David Mewa is working on a new video for MMVA nominated artist Famous. Julie Doiron is working with director Tim McDonough from The NE East, on a track from her new album "I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day".

Jeff Campagna, a fresh new director at The NE Inc., is shooting videos for Amanda Morra, and Snow. Matt Scott is working on videos for Diemonds and New City Hearts. Mike Portoghese is wrapping up post-production and releasing a video for Chris S & 2G ft. international dancehall superstar Beenie Man.

About The NE Inc.

Based in Toronto, The NE Inc. is a full service visual media content development company. The firm is made up of a young collective of like-minded film and television professionals specializing in and developing some of the most preeminent visual media, music videos and film projects. The team has secured many accolades including international awards for music videos direction and production. The NE Inc. produces almost 40 per cent of Canada's music industry promotions. Visit www.thene.ca

About UOMO Media Inc.

UOMO Media Inc. is a multi-channel entertainment company that acquires, produces, and manages intellectual media content and digital assets. UOMO integrates existing and well-established revenue streams in recorded music, publishing and talent management through its five operating divisions: UOMO Digital, UOMO Recorded Music, UOMO Talent Management, UOMO Publishing, and newly launched, AdUOMO. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that by 2011, the global media and entertainment industry will be worth US$ 2 trillion. www.uomomedia.com.

Funked-Up Disco That Rocks

Source:
www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green

Karmageddon
Let's Go To War
Last Gang Records

(August 17, 2009) Studio 54 never really closed, it just took up more permanent quarters in a corner of our collective imagination. The celebrity party haven was always keen on any new trend, so it makes sense that a lot of clever musicians with a crush on disco would cling to the club's eternal velvet rope, looking for a chance to get it.

If I were the doorman, I would wave in
Let's Go To War, a Toronto trio (Peter-John Kerr, Adrien Gough and Henry Walter) that has already gained a little notoriety through a one-song collaboration with Britney Spears (the spring-loaded Mmm papi ). The band's debut disc is a singing, rapping, beat-mongering valentine to the kind of high-living mirror that makes all objects seem closer than they really are.

The album opens with Burn Down the Disco , an old-school disco number freshened up with a grainy bass and game-console bleeps, and made cheeky with a mock-serious threnody for a woman who will “live for ever 'cause she died in a flame.” Life We Live is a hyper-electro rap song about living in the fast lane, and The Whole City's Got a Cold puts up some languid verses about the kind of white-powder sniffles that don't subside with rest and plenty of fluids.

Wolves offers a Prince-like vision of a lurid moral quandary, with a heavy dance beat, shiny synth grooves and a plaintive chorus. The band steps right through the mirror in Internet Pornstar , a fervent avowal of love for the girl writhing on the computer screen: “She's all I got!” the male chorus yells, as a glassy processed female voice coos out the title.

The album takes a hard turn toward the mainstream in the last few songs. Pennychaser is this group's rather grim retort to Kanye West's Gold Digger ; Drivin' slouches along a strutting beat toward a horizon full of aimlessness; and Maybelline is a broken-hearted ballad about the mystery woman who got away, complete with big sparkly chorus. But it's Don't Love Me , a stylish nu-Motown number with a compulsive bass beat that may provide the biggest clue to this band's future. Either by their own recordings or through collaborations with established stars, these guys could be huge.

The Chef Raekwon Is Back With More Cuban Linx

Source:  www.eurweb.com - By Cory King Jr. / cck3000@yahoo.com

(Aug 13, 2009) *“Protect Ya Neck” is a slogan made famous by 90s powerhouse hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.

Apparently it is not only practiced in lyrical theory but also in daily application.

In defense of negative statements by New Jersey native Joe Budden regarding Wu Tang alum Method Man, Raekwon (Corey Woods) also known as “The Chef” and one of the more visible and identifiable members of the clan, has recently been implicated in a backstage attack of fellow rapper Joe Budden. 

    In a July interview with EUR, Raekwon said:

“Never use anybody from the W [for publicity] ni**as will crush you. Therefore you have to protect ya neck when you mention anybody in the clan.”

The rapper has since denied any involvement in the Budden incident. Given the number of members the Clan possesses makes them formidable foes. This was a fact that even the Notorious B.I.G. had to recognize. The rapper explains a misunderstanding the Clan had with the now deceased legend:

“In the early 90s when we all was coming out it was only a few good emcees that were really holding weight. Wu-Tang was one of the groups around. You had B.I.G. and Puff and 'em doin’ their thing. You had Nas and Mobb Deep. We all was the ‘dudes’ on the East Coast at that time. Around that time we were in competition with everybody. We came in the game as rebels and that was the philosophy we was trying to implement at that time. Back then everybody was on some protect ya neck sh*t. We probably were in a spot and he might have told one of his friends, ‘Yo I may need your assistance in case any sh*t pops off [with Wu-Tang]. But at the end of the day nothing escalated from that.”

Apparently Budden didn’t get that memo. The recent altercation has overshadowed the release of Raekwon’s forth coming album. In 1995 the Brooklyn native released what would become a classic album in hip-hop: “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” The rapper, after a brief stint with hip-hop production legend Dr. Dre and Aftermath records, is ready to reawaken hip-hop heads with “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II.”

It's been 14 years since the release of "OB4CL." Back then Wu-Tang was at the pinnacle of the East Coast and Raekwon was one of its staunchest defenders. Fast forward to 2009 and the rap scene does not look the same. Wu-Tang has been surpassed by Gucci Mane. For better or worse lyrical skill does not equate in popularity or records sales. The Chef thrived in a time when rappers were forced to have skill or get the boot. When asked how he feels about the present state of the music biz the rapper had this to say:

“Hip-hop is being taken over by a new generation that wasn’t around when I made that classic. We're just going to see where all the real hip-hop fans is at. Whether you’re young or you’re an older cat, my focus was to make a classic album that you could love and you could respect. Go support a real dude that took his time out to make a classic and it’s definitely a classic.”

One of the main differences between this latest project and the original is the fact that Wu-Tang producer RZA did not work on it. In a sense it’s like trying to recreate the Golden Gate Bridge without its chief architect. A task which the rapper feels wasn’t impossible. Speaking about the production on the album and how he plans to recapture the sound, Raekwan says:

“RZA definitely had a lot to do with the formula. He is a producer so me and him sat down and recognized he had a lot of things on his plate and I had a lot of things on my plate dealing with this album. He wasn’t able to really be there as much because he has his own schedule with things he had to do. So what we did was build a robot [producers] that could challenge the RZA’s production.”

The album features appearances from Jadakiss, Beanie Sigel and some of the usual Wu suspects. “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II” is slated to hit the streets September 8. If it is at least a shadow of the original album then it will most certainly be one for the CD collection.

Guitar Legend Les Paul Dies At Age 94

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - J.D. Considine

(Aug 16, 2009) He never had a million-selling album, or wrote a hit single. Indeed, his career in pop music lasted barely a decade, and was over before the Beatles came along. Even so, Les Paul completely changed the way people hear and make music.

As a pop musician, he was best known for his work in the 1950s with then-wife Mary Ford.

The two had a string of hits early in the decade, collecting 36 gold records for such singles as Mockin' Bird Hill, Vaya Con Dios, and most memorably, How High the Moon, which spent nine weeks atop the Billboard charts in 1951.

Mr. Paul continued to play guitar after he and his wife separated in 1963, focusing mainly on jazz. Indeed, he performed regularly into his 90s, thanks to a standing Monday night gig at the New York jazz club The Iridium.

But in many ways, his greatest achievement wasn't the music so much as the technology behind it.

An inveterate inventor, he was one of the pioneers of electric guitar design, a process culminating in the Gibson Les Paul, one of the most iconic electric guitars ever made.

He was also a pioneer of recording technology, and invented tape echo, sound-on-sound recording, and multitrack technology, things that permanently changed the way recordings are made.

“Without Les Paul, we would not have rock and roll as we know it,” Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, told the Associated Press. “His inventions changed the infrastructure for the music. … He was truly an architect of rock and roll.”

He started out playing country music, and at age 17 made his radio debut in Racine, Wisc.

Within a few years he was a regular on Chicago radio, performing under the name Rhubarb Red. As he grew more interested in jazz, he shortened his given name, Lester Polfus, to Les Paul, and moved to New York.

He began to cut jazz sides with his trio for Decca in 1936, and by 1941 the group was a regular on Fred Waring's show for NBC.

It was at about this time that he built his “Log” guitar. Mr. Paul had been modifying his guitars since the late 1920s. “Once I jammed my mother's phonograph needle right into the top of a guitar and hooked it up,” he wrote in his foreword to the book American Guitars. “It worked! I had my first electric.”

In subsequent years, he experimented with adding wood to the amplified acoustic guitars that were on the market, in order to cut down on the vibration in the body.

Guitar makers thought he was crazy – it was the body resonance that give acoustic guitars their tone – but Mr. Paul understood that with amplification, that extra vibration was not just superfluous but worked against the guitar's sound. So he went in the opposite direction and began experimenting with a guitar based on a four-by-four-inch board. “I stuck on a regular guitar body for looks and called it ‘the Log,'” he wrote.

After spending two years in the military, Mr. Paul wound up in Los Angeles, where he worked with Bing Crosby, among others. Mr. Crosby was intrigued by Mr. Paul's interest in electronics and sound, and urged the guitarist to build a home studio. He didn't take much convincing.

“I was always taking apart microphones and phonograph pickups to see what made them tick,” he wrote. “I used to read a lot of books on that stuff.”

Laid up after an auto accident in early 1948, he spent much of his recovery time tinkering with recording gear. One of the first effects he developed was sound-on-sound recording, which allowed him to add sound to an existing recording without erasing what was already there.

But his biggest and most enduring breakthrough was multitrack tape recording. Monaural recording put all the sound onto one “track” on a tape, just as it had put all the sound into a single groove of a gramophone.

What Mr. Paul realized was that if one recording head recorded one track onto a tape, multiple heads could put down multiple tracks.

He made a stack of several recording heads, which allowed him not only to record sounds separately but made it possible to record on some tracks while simultaneously playing back sound on others.

This completely changed the process of recording. Before multitrack, recordings just documented live performances; with this new tool, an artist could construct a recording piece by piece, creating sounds that could not be duplicated live.

“On a lot of my hits with my wife, Mary Ford, I played all the parts myself,” he wrote. That one-man-band approach would later be used by such stars as Paul McCartney, on his first solo album McCartney , and Stevie Wonder, for most of his albums after Talking Book .

In 1952, Gibson – which had scoffed at Mr. Paul's early electric guitar designs – introduced the solid body Les Paul guitar. Developed in conjunction with Gibson's Ted McCarty and Maurice Berlin, it was a distinct departure from the design Leo Fender had introduced two years earlier with the Broadcaster (later renamed the Telecaster) guitar. It had a more traditional guitar shape and a carved maple top. It sold for $210 (U.S.); in 2005, Christies sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul at auction for $45,600.

The choice of guitarists ranging from Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page to the Who's Pete Townshend to former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, the Les Paul is such a classic rock and roll guitar that it became almost synonymous with rock and roll (even though a number of jazz musicians, including Al Di Meola and Pat Martino, also played it).

Yet for all that, Mr. Paul remained unphased by his success. As he told The Globe and Mail's Simon Houpt in 2005, “I don't think any of us, inventors or creators or people who are lucky enough to be successful in their career, should think that they're going to be remembered for this or this or this.”

When he dies, he said, he'll just be, “a person that was here, and is gone and that's the end of it.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

LES PAUL

Les Paul was born Lester William Polfus in Waukesha, Wisc., on June 9, 1915. He died on Aug. 13, 2009, in White Plains, N.Y., of complications from pneumonia. He leaves long-time companion Arlene Palmer, sons Lester, Gene and Robert, daughter Coleen, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Danforth Music Hall : A Night At The 'Theatorium'

Source:  www.thestar.com - Eric Veillette, Special To The Star

(Aug 15, 2009) A crowd of onlookers lined up on Danforth Ave., waiting to enter a grand new movie theatre, the likes of which had never been seen in Toronto's east end.

The feature film, Through the Wrong Door, starred the beautiful Madge Kennedy, but make no mistake: people were there to marvel at what the Allen chain of theatres was calling "Canada's First Super-Suburban Photo-Play Palace."

This scene took place 90 years ago this Tuesday at the
Music Hall, originally called the Allen Danforth. Heritage Toronto, along with the Riverdale Historical Society, will be on hand to unveil a plaque commemorating the milestone. Helping to recreate the evening's experience will be a silent film screening featuring live musical accompaniment.

Silent-era films are fragile, and Through the Wrong Door exists today only in fragments. But anniversary organizers were able to track down another Madge Kennedy feature, 1920's Dollars and Sense.

"People have forgotten what a big star she was," says historical society president Gerald Whyte, who's been planning this event for nearly a year.

Tuesday is a rare opportunity to see a silent film in a genuine silent cinema. Noted movie pianist John Kruspe will accompany the film with the help of a string section that will also perform before the film, echoing the days when full orchestras played contemporary hits before taking on the big feature.

And admission is just $1 – surely the cheapest movie ticket in town.

In 1919, as the Allen's projector ran melodramas and slapstick for as many as 1,600 patrons at a time, Danforth Ave. was still decades away from being the hot spot it is today. But the Prince Edward Viaduct, completed the previous October, prompted an influx of development. Now connected to Bloor St. and the rest of the city, it was no longer the country-road of the 1880s – lined with market gardens and a horse and buggy shop – but was becoming a vibrant, accessible part of a burgeoning metropolis.

A true Canadian success story, Jule and Jay Allen established their first "theatorium" in Brantford in 1907. By the opening of the Danforth theatre, the Allen empire stretched from coast to coast, counting nearly 100 cinemas.

Their early success was partly due to holding exclusive screening rights to Paramount's films.

But this would also be their undoing. Paul S. Moore, Ryerson professor and author of Now Playing: Early Moviegoing and the Regulation of Fun, says that by 1921, Paramount sought to buy them out.

"They said `no' to the offer, and were quickly flattened by the competition," he says. "By 1923, they were gone, leaving a near monopoly in Canada in the hands of Paramount and Famous Players Canada Corporation."

The Allen Danforth held on as an independent and was eventually bought by B&F Theatres, becoming the Century in 1934.

In the 1970s, it was renamed the Titania, and its programming catered to the Greek community that now populated the neighbourhood. After taking on its current moniker, it languished as a cinema and live music venue for some time. The large building fell into a dangerous state of disrepair: like the grindhouses that once littered Yonge St., you chose your seating carefully, as the Music Hall's ceiling dripped water from various spots.

Restored by its current owners, including new carpeting in the auditorium laid down especially for Tuesday's event, the Music Hall's latest incarnation presents live acts and musicals. It remains one of the best surviving examples of this former theatre empire.

Eric Veillette covers the history of Canadian cinemas at 32elvismovies.com

Canucks Turned Away By U.S. On Way To Dream Gig For Paltry Payday

Source:  www.thestar.com - Bruce Demara, Entertainment Reporter

(Aug 16, 2009) Bands beware.  The Dabbagh brothers – a.k.a. Toronto band The MacHams – can tell you that U.S. border authorities are strictly enforcing visa rules, which forced them to cancel an appearance that they thought could have been a huge break: opening for Creed.

The website sonicbids, which posts gigs and tour slots for musicians, recently put up for tender a slot preceding the reunited, multi-platinum band last Tuesday at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Centre in New York on Tuesday night. The MacHams jumped at the chance despite the paltry appearance fee of $500.

But LiveNation, the event promoter that selected them, neglected to ensure they had the necessary paperwork – a P1 visa – and the brothers spent more than three hours being interviewed, fingerprinted and having their mug-shots taken before being turned back.

"We were crushed, not being able to play this simple gig that was not even going to cover our gas and hotel. We were not doing this for the money, we were doing it for the experience," said Noel Dabbagh, 27.

In fact, the band spent more than $300 in upfront costs to buy matching outfits and additional equipment, as well as renting a van.

George Dabbagh, 28, said he did receive an apology from a LiveNation representative.

In the file-sharing era, low-profile bands like The MacHams can't even dream of a big payday from a hit record; earning a loyal, paying following for live shows is the biggest remaining objective. (Record labels have responded by signing artists deals that give the labels a chunk of touring revenue too.)

George said the band has played to some acclaim at various bars and nightclubs throughout Toronto – they have a gig Wednesday at the Cameron House – but "this was an opportunity to play in front of 10,000-plus people."

Greg Bennett, spokesperson for the U.S. Customs Service, said Live-Nation should have known that getting a P1 visa to perform in the U.S. can take several weeks or even months to process.

Canadian performers can download an application for a visa through the service's website, file it along with the appropriate fees and then wait for it to be approved, he said.

Bennett said well-established bands have agents in the U.S. who routinely file paperwork on their behalf but he noted newer Canuck performers have had the same disappointing experience in the past.

The band of brothers, which also includes youngest sibling, J.P., 22, has been performing since 2003 and has recently started to get serious about taking their act on the road. They're in the process of producing their first CD, slated for release in October.

But George worried the recent border experience might prove problematic in the future.

"Now it's like we've been flagged. Every time they check our passports, it'll be `oh, I see that you were prohibited last time,'" he said.

But the experience has not dimmed their hopes.

"It's not going to slow us down. In the next couple of months, with the CD being released, I can really see things happening for us," George said.

Steve Martin In The Banjo Underground

Source:  www.thestar.com - Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist

(Aug 16, 2009) It's no surprise to his more devoted fans to see comedian/actor and playwright/novelist Steve Martin hitting the road at long last with his banjo.

A master of the three-finger picking style for which his mentor, banjo legend Earl Scruggs, is known, Martin began featuring the traditional folk instrument, albeit in a coy, self-deprecating way, in his comic routines 30 years ago.

But to anyone who was familiar with the five-string banjo, it was clear, even then, that the wild and crazy guy with the fake arrow through his head was a serious picker, just lacking confidence.

The banjo has never been far from his side throughout his long performing career. In dressing rooms, hotel suites, and on movie sets, one of his instruments — he owns three rare and valuable Gibson Florentine banjos — is always close at hand.

And banjo music has been a consuming passion for Martin since the folk boom years of the 1960s, he said in a phone interview this week from his home in Los Angeles. While others flocked to music stores to buy guitars, he was checking out the far more demanding — and not nearly as cool — banjo, and hunting down recordings of old-time Appalachian bluegrass bands.

"I just loved the sound of it from the first time I heard it," Martin said amid preparations for a tour that brings him — and sidekicks, the Steep Canyon Band, from North Carolina — to Roy Thomson Hall Oct. 15.

"Nothing else sounds like the banjo. It's the show-off instrument in bluegrass, both percussive and melodic, and capable of such an incredible range of emotions, from joy to melancholy."

Following up on the critical praise heaped on his recently released Rounder Records album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, comprising banjo-dominated bluegrass instrumentals and folksy ballads — most of them written by Martin — and encouraged by enthusiastic responses this summer to a couple of guest appearances at high-profile festivals and a handful of sold-out small-venue shows in New York and L.A., the famed comedian and movie star is reinventing himself as a banjo virtuoso, with concerts booked in coming weeks at Carnegie Hall, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.

"I'm playing live venues again for the first time in 30 years, now that the pressure is off," Martin said.

Though he has played continually for his own amusement, and occasionally picked up bluegrass recordings in record stores, Martin credits satellite radio for increasing his appetite for banjo music. "It was fantastic. I could just tune into the bluegrass channel and listen to music I'd never have been able to find any other place," he said.

But it was Scruggs' invitation six years ago to do a little picking on his Earl Scruggs and Friends album — featuring bluegrass, country music, pop and rock stars — and the success of his Grammy-winning version of the bluegrass staple "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," a duet with Martin, that got his strings really vibrating.

"A couple of years later (famed banjo master) Tony Trischka asked me to play on one of his sessions, and I figured there must be 500 pickers better than me," Martin continued. "I said I'd do it if I could bring something original to the table, a piece I'd written called 'The Crow.' That's really how this whole thing began."

"The Crow" actually became something of a cult hit — Martin's second, after his 1978 novelty breakout, "King Tut" — and since he had several other original songs lying around, some dating back to the 1960s, he decided to record them, with the help of long-time friend, banjo instructor and producer, John McEuen. Country, folk and bluegrass greats such as Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Jerry Douglas, Mary Black, David Amram, Stuart Duncan, Russ Barenberg, Trischka and Scruggs, also contributed.

Though The Crow was, he said, "motivated by idleness — just sitting around with nothing to do," he's more than pleased with the result.

"I'm very happy with the record. But I've been writing and playing so much since it was finished, and my chops are so much better. I wish I could do it all over again. And I've written five new songs that I wish we could have recorded as well."

Billed in the liner notes as "the most expensive banjo album in the history of the universe, and that includes possible alternative universes, too," The Crow is hard to dismiss as a movie star's vanity sideline project. The focus of the entire effort is on Martin's own compositions and smart finger work, and both stand up to the intense scrutiny of a really picky audience.

"The banjo culture might be underground, but it's vast," Martin said. "It extends to England, Ireland, Scotland, Czechoslovakia, even Switzerland – I'm just beginning to learn how deep and wide the banjo world is. In North America, banjo playing is like a contact sport, with contests all over the place."

Not that he interesting in competing. "I just want to stick with it," he added. "There are better pickers than me, and there always will be, and certainly better singers. But my audience seems to understand I'm serious about this — and I make it clear to them what they're in for — and I've had no difficulty getting them to come along for the ride."

Where the ride will take him, Martin doesn't care.

"It seems to be keeping Alzheimer's at bay," he said. "And that's a good thing."

Singer Gave Up Trying To Keep Songs Out Of Novel, And Issued CD With It

Source:  www.thestar.com - Vit Wagner , Publishing Reporter

(Aug 16, 2009) Joe Pernice, the veteran musician turned rookie novelist, ambles into I Deal Coffee on Ossington Ave. wearing a printed red T-shirt bearing the appeal "Boston or Bust" above an emblematic Canadian maple leaf.

The Pernice Brothers, the Massachusetts-bred frontman's band, were in town for a gig at Lee's Palace several years ago, when the shirt was presented to Pernice by a friend of Mike Belitsky, drummer for both Toronto's Sadies and Pernice's band.

"I'm guessing it was worn by somebody from Canada who was thumbing down to Boston for some reason," says Pernice.

Whatever the shirt's provenance, it's a perfect temperamental fit for Pernice, a transplant to Toronto who has adopted the city as wholeheartedly as any Bostonian can while continuing to worship at the Fenway Park altar of the sainted Red Sox.

"I like living here quite a bit, but I could never become a Blue Jays fan," Pernice says, before slightly amending the dismissal. "I like the Blue Jays okay, but I'm not a fan of the Rogers Centre.

"I go to see the Sox when they play here. And the Yankees now and then. Or if there's a good pitching matchup. I like to see Roy Halladay pitch against anybody. So in that respect it's a great place to go. And it's cheap. But it's a terrible ballpark. They should have car shows there instead. In fact, I think they do."

Pernice, esteemed for his ability to craft perfect, hooky, bittersweet pop tunes, has just published his debut novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop. Like its author, the story also enjoys creative purchase in both Toronto and New England. The story's setting is the famed Massachusetts resort community of Cape Cod, but most of the book was written on a laptop in the very coffee shop where he is now being interviewed.

A resident of Toronto for the past four years, Pernice, 43, lives in the neighbourhood with his Canadian wife, Laura Stein, formerly of the rock band Jale. Starting in July of 2007, during daily breaks from minding the couple's then 1-year-old son, Pernice sat a table in I Deal from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for seven months and wrote.

"After I finished the book I had an unbelievable pinched nerve in my neck that lasted over a month," he says. "I didn't feel it while I was writing the book. I think it was one of those things where you know you can't get sick because you have this big deadline and then the minute you're done all hell breaks lose. It was pretty grim."

Pernice was invited to try his hand at a novel by a publisher for Penguin imprint Riverhead Books who was a fan of the Pernice Brothers and who also liked Pernice's previous literary effort, Meat Is Murder: A Novella, a fictional riff on the Smiths' album published in 2003 as part of the 33 1/3 series of music-related books.

It Feels So Good When I Stop is told from the perspective of an unnamed, aimless, profanity-spewing narrator trying to steer his life back on track after a marriage that lasted all of a weekend. Eventually, the protagonist finds a measure of purpose while minding the young child of his recently separated sister and brother-in-law.

The narrative, set in the mid-'90s, is littered with references to songs from the period and older classics. Pernice has recorded a companion solo CD of cover tunes, including Todd Rundgren's "Hello it's Me" and Del Shannon's "I'm Your Puppet," rendered in the performer's characteristically low-key, bittersweet style. He is promoting the novel with a reading/singing tour that includes a Sept. 24 date at the Dakota Tavern.

"Initially, I wanted to leave music out of the book because I wanted to be judged – whether positively or negatively – as a guy who is writing a book, not as a musician who is taking a whimsical crack at this. But music is too important to me. I couldn't avoid it."

One of the songs on the CD is "Soul and Fire" by Sebadoh. The Massachusetts band's frontman Lou Barlow also appears briefly as a character in the book.

"I told (Barlow) that he was being portrayed as a decent guy. He emailed back and said, `Thanks for asking. I appreciate it. But go ahead and make me into a dick, if it seems more appropriate.'"

Although the Pernice Brothers have been on an extended hiatus since recording a fifth studio album, Live a Little, back in 2006, Pernice has no plans of giving up his day job. That said, it also sounds as if his first novel won't be his last.

"Songs are written one at a time. I rarely think of them as being related to one another. You finish one, you move on. And then eventually you have an album.

"Whereas writing a book, you have to see the big picture and sustain it. The book was on my mind constantly. It was on my mind when I woke up. It was on my mind when I went to bed. It was a real trip having this other world percolating at all times."

Bruck Up Hooks Up With Shaggy

Source: Top40Charts.com

(August 19, 2009) *New York, NY - Bruck Up, the eternal high-energy reggae artist who fans love to call 'Mr. Excitement' drops a new single and video on the reggae market soon.

The blazing single and its accompanying sizzling video clip is called 'Sunglasses - Keep Your Shades On' and features reggae icon
Shaggy, whose 2000 MCA Records album 'Hot Shot' sold more than 10 million units worldwide and featured Billboard Hot 100 chart hits 'Angel' and 'It Wasn't Me.'

'Sunglasses - Keep Your Shades On' is typical of Bruck Up's hybrid style and the release is an exotic blend of reggae, soca and hip-hop.

It is a song that compels the listener to tap his or her feet and dance. Anybody who has ever met Bruckup can't help but be awed by his infectious energy and the laughter that he brings, so it comes as no surprise that the record is already being embraced by reggae radio.

Dave Rodney, media marketing consultant and executive producer of the 151 Reggae Internet Show/ Axiomonline.tv added, "Bruck Up is a rare synergy of a reggae artist, dancer and comedian wrapped in one package, and the power of what he brings to the stage was on display the last time he was a guest on the 151 Show when he mesmerized the studio and the viewing audience, leaving fans begging for more."

'I am very proud of this new single', Bruckup commented. 'I am also thrilled that I had the opportunity to work on this project with Shaggy, who has enjoyed international success with 'Boombastic,' 'Midnite Lover' and 'Lucky Day.' I feel the song will be a force to be reckoned with on the dance floors and for many music lovers, it will bring back the fun in music,' he continued.

The video is an astonishing piece of artistry that incorporates elements of the classic movie 'Revenge of The Nerds' with Bruckup's unique contemporary twist. The video was shot at various locations around New York City including at 50 Cents old office. It features Bruckup and Shaggy and was produced by Reset Creative, a New York City production company, and directed by German videographer Zollo of Fat King Films. The clip was styled by two leading urban fashion companies- Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Ecko, and the dancing and the choreography was supported by New York's favourite reggae dance group, Active Dancers.

Bruck Up is no stranger to big times and bright lights as he's had past performance and production collaborations with some of the music industry's big guns - Teddy Riley, Swiss Beatz, Dougie Fresh, Slick Rick and Wyclef Jean.

'Bruck Up has been a powerful force in the reggae arena for a long time, and we feel this first single from his 2010 upcoming album, to be called 'Mr. Excitement' will be a turning point in his career', Gazoo, Bruckup's manager pointed out. The video clip is being serviced to all major TV and new media outlets including MTV, VH1 and BET.

And while music insiders are buzzing about 'Sunglasses - Keep Your Shades On' the tireless Bruckup is being kept busy finishing up his album and taking acting classes to better equip himself for upcoming film and TV projects.

'I put no limits on how far I can go', Bruckup chimed confidently.

'Sunglasses - Keep Your Shades On' was produced by Sound Boy and will be released on the New York-based Orchard label.

MUSIC TIDBITS

Tarrus Riley’s Contagious Album Now Released

Source:  www.eurweb.com - By Kevin Jackson

(Aug 13, 2009)  Reggae singer Tarrus Riley’s new album Contagious has been released by VP Records. The set features 18 tracks, four of which have already made an impression on various reggae charts in Jamaica and around the Caribbean.   A video for the single Love’s Contagious was recently directed by Jason ‘Jay Will’ Williams.   Love’s Contagious which was produced by Dean Fraser, is featured on the revived ‘Coming in from the cold’ rhythm track, which accompanied Bob Marley’s track of the same name.   ‘It’s a blessing to be working with Jay Will and it’s been really good so far. He has a lot of ideas and the chemistry is just natural’, Tarrus Riley related to this column on the set of the video shoot.   Some of the familiar tracks that are included on the 18 track set include the cover of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature (which is currently occupying local music charts), and the current chart hit Good Girl Gone Bad featuring Konshens.   ‘The fans are going to love this album. There is something on there for everyone’, Riley confided.

Shania Twain Rumoured For Judge Spot On American Idol

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(August 17, 2009) Shania Twain once sang the lyrics "That don't impress me much." Now, she may get to utter those words to hopefuls on American Idol. People.com is reporting the pop star from Timmins, Ont., is rumoured to be a possible candidate for a guest-judging position during the show's upcoming auditions. The website says there's word that Twain may sit on the judging panel alongside Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Kara DioGuardi in Chicago on Aug. 30 to 31. She would be a guest replacement for Paula Abdul, who recently announced she would not be returning to the show. Recording artists Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, and Mary J. Blige have already filled in for Abdul during the casting tour. Twain hasn't released an album of new material since 2002's ``Up!" A posting on her website says the 43-year-old will give fans "a present" on her birthday on Aug. 28.

'Idol' Taps Mary J. Blige As Guest Judge

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 17, 2009) *Mary J. Blige is part of the carousel of female pop stars serving as guest judges for "American Idol" in the absence of Paula Abdul, who will not return when the new season debuts in January. Blige is on the second day of a two-day gig alongside regular judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi at the Atlanta auditions – which began Sunday and is scheduled to wrap up today. Victoria Beckham finished her guest judge stint on Friday at the Boston auditions, and singer Katy Perry is scheduled to join the panel in the coming days.  As previously reported, Queen Latifah is rumoured to be on Fox's list of guest judges as well.

Deeper Love: Marisa Lindsay

Source: www.thestar.com - Ashante Infantry

(Thunderdome)
http://ca.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f278005%5fAMslvs4AATZISosm6Q4S2TNSFQY&pid=2&fid=Inbox&inline=1http://ca.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f278005%5fAMslvs4AATZISosm6Q4S2TNSFQY&pid=3&fid=Inbox&inline=1http://ca.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f278005%5fAMslvs4AATZISosm6Q4S2TNSFQY&pid=4&fid=Inbox&inline=1(out of 4)

(August 18, 2009) With her joyful neo-soul vibe and jazz undertones, this Bajan singer most recalls Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. Working again with Markham producer Eddie Bullen, Lindsay's sophomore disc is comprised of grooving ruminations on love, such as "Trippin' Without Your Love" and "Upswing" – "Catch me on the upswing, baby/'Cause I can't show no love when I'm down low." Backed by a six-piece band, she'll perform the new songs at tonight's CD release at Revival.

Sounds Of Blackness Back With New Album

Source: www.eurweb.com  

(August 18, 2009)  *The Grammy award-winning group Sounds of Blackness returns with the Aug. 25 release of "The 3rd Gift: Story, Song & Spirit," offering music with messages of peace, love and hope. Infusing their unique sound of gospel, R&B, jazz, spirituals, worldbeat and more, "The 3rd Gift" features arrangements of such classics as Marvin Gaye's "God Is Love," Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" and an updated version of their very own classic "Optimistic."  New tracks include "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," "The Path of Healing" and "Audacity of Hope (We Are One)," which is inspired by two of Sounds of Blackness' self-proclaimed fans, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.  To kick off the release, Sounds of Blackness will perform and sign autographs at the Best Buy Rotunda located inside the famed Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Ndegeocello To Plug New CD With Mini-Tour

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 19, 2009) Meshell Ndegeocello will promote her forthcoming album, "Devil's Halo," with a three-week club tour of the US beginning this fall, reports Live Daily.   The singer/musician will kick things off Oct. 6 in New York, stopping by intimate venues in 11 major markets across the country through the Oct. 28 finale in Bellingham, WA.    The autumn outing will include a full band, featuring guitarist Chris Bruce, bassist Mark Kelley, drummer Deantoni Parks and keyboardist Keefus Ciancia.   "Devil's Halo," Ndegeocello's eighth studio set and first for Mercer Street Records, follows her 2007 release, "The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams." The 10-time Grammy nominee co-produced the new album alongside guitarist Chris Bruce. Tour details are listed below:

October 2009
6 - New York, NY - HighLine Ballroom
7 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Downstairs
8 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
15 - Detroit, MI - Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts
16 - Chicago, IL - Old Town School of Folk Music
18 - Minneapolis, MN - Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
22 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
23 - Oakland, CA - Town Hall
24 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
27 - Seattle, WA - The Triple Door
28 - Bellingham, WA - The Nightlight

Moss Exclusive Excerpt

Source:
www.eurweb.com - By Mona Austin / mediamindedpro@yahoo.com

(August 19, 2009) Even months after an extra marital affair became public, J Moss says a lump is swelling I his throat as he recalls confessing to Melanie, his wife that he'd cheated.   Moss describes the moment he spoke those words as "horrific," but wanted to tell her before rumours of his 2008 affair got out of control.   "It's ironic.  The very person that I defied, betrayed and cheated and hurt so badly saved my life, he confides, meaning those words literally.   Defaming comments from the blogsphere had taken their toll on the acclaimed, singer, writer and producer to the point that he contemplated taking his life multiple times.   "I was extremely depressed, it was a dark time for me.  That was the point I wanted to take my life.  I was plotting it out.  I had the gun in my hands a few times, pills in my hands ..."   Moss shares these and other shocking revelations in an exclusive one-on-one in "Precious Times" magazine about an extra marital relationship that produced his third son and the restoration he has experienced since the fall out.

::FILM NEWS::

Explosive Sci Fi Film 'District 9' Is South Africa's First Of It's Kind

Source:  www.eurweb.com - By Marie Moore

(Aug 13, 2009) *It might not appear odd that the Australian director Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “King Kong”) is the producer of the explosive sci-fi “District 9.” Aliens who landed in South Africa in “District 9” aren’t the only vexing issue facing the country.

 But the menacing Nigerians who devour body parts also compound this debacle.  Director Neill Blomkamp says he saw a void in South Africa’s cinema when it came to science fiction. “I was a science fiction nut growing up in Jo’Burg (Johannesburg) and I realized that I hadn’t seen science fiction in Africa before,” says Blomkamp, who is also responsible for the screenplay.  

 I asked the star of the film, Sharlto Copley, to address a statement he had made about South Africans. “In South Africa, we have to deal with issues that generally people around the world try to sweep under the rug,” Copley commented. Grilled about the issue, he went on to explain that they were cultural.

 “Cultural differences and value differences, I think, are the biggest challenges that people face in any country. You try not to talk about the things that you really differ on. You know, if you believe that it’s fine to have 10 wives and I believe that it isn’t, we try to sort of not talk about that one because it just creates tension. So you just try and focus on the positive side and try to focus on common values. That’s certainly what South Africa was able to do to allow that kind of decision to happen in 1994, the kind of peaceful transition to democracy. It was about focusing a little bit more and also creating a space for the painful stuff to come out; things like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 “In it’s most boiled down distilled level, I think it’s really just the idea of two groups, two races kind of meeting one another head on and one group oppressing the other one directly and indirectly. I think a lot of it is subconscious,” Blomkamp says. The animosity between the Africans in the film is very cognizant. “There are two parts to South Africa’s history,” Blomkamp continued. “There’s the part that everybody knows which is, you know, the white oppression over the black majority. But then there’s the second thing that’s happening now which I wanted to include in the film. The situation of the millions of Zimbabwean immigrants and the impoverished blacks of South Africa reached its critical point while we were filming in 2008. I don’t know if you saw the news, about the lynchings, burnings and machete attacks but it was seriously violent stuff that happened.”

 More disturbing than the aliens who wanted to return home are the scenes of Nigerians eating body parts. Called upon to describe the cannibalistic scenes, Blomkamp noted that putting the Nigerians into a setting where they are involved in a crime syndicate, “South Africans would instantly think that was absolutely accurate and completely hilarious. That is exactly how South Africa is. For all of downtown Jo’Burg it’s Nigerian occupied and most of the violent crime in Jo’Burg stems from the central area around Hillbron where huge Nigerian gangs own and control a lot of the ins and outs of how the city works. There are lots of African witch doctors and voodoo. In South Africa that practice or idea of consuming body parts and stuff has powerful results. So it’s something that I put in there because it is African and it is part of South Africa’s makeup but I walk that fine line knowing that a North American population may or may not get it. So it’s authentic to South Africa and it’s authentic to West Africa but the audiences are going to take from it what they will I guess.”

 A kinder and gentler sci-fi film, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,,” also opens this week at theatres. The Film Strip asked its stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams what time would they like to travel back to? “I think the 50s,” Bana said because he thought a time before he was born would be “more magical.” McAdams concurred, commenting, “Yeah, I would like to go back to the ‘good old days.’ I would like to see my parents fall in love.”

 The two said the life of actors is somewhat a metaphor for “The Time Traveler’s Wife” because actors are like gypsies, never in one place long. “It was really important to root the film in something that we could relate to and that the audience could relate to and not this sort of intangible thing, or this fantastical concept,” McAdams explained. “That’s something we spent a lot of time thinking about in the rehearsal process; talking about longing and waiting and separation and how that obstacle is so relevant in so many relationships and so many people are overcoming that everyday. We tried to step away from time travel because I think flying an airplane is the closest we have. Eric can attest to a little bit of time travel, being from Australia, but that’s about all we have.”

 Getting a bit philosophical about destiny and the road one travels, Bana suggested there is a common denominator when it comes to fate and choice. “You’ve got to be proactive about your destiny. Realize that the other half is completely out of your control but own [something]. I do believe in reading signs if they’re really obvious to you. Something happens in the morning and then someone mentions it that evening and then it happens again the next morning. There’s a reason why three people have said something within 24 hours.” 

Coppola Goes Indie

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Michael Posner

(Aug 16, 2009) No film director anticipates bad reviews, but sometimes they have intimations.

Certainly, it was no surprise to Francis Ford Coppola when Tetro, his new feature – which opened in the United States in June – was greeted by a loud chorus of criticism. The box-office performance wasn't exactly robust either; by Aug. 2, the film had managed to gross barely more than $1-million (U.S.) worldwide, an almost shocking statistic given the five-time Oscar winner's reputation.

“My whole career has been like that,” Coppola said philosophically, on the phone from California before Tetro’s  Canadian opening this week. “I make films out of the mould. Certain kinds of films do well with big audiences, but if you go your own way, if it's out of the ordinary, you're likely to get strong reactions, both positive and negative.”

“ Within any family, when one guy becomes successful, there are going to be hurt feelings. ”

The negative formulations of deadline-driven movie critics don't faze him. The two pinnacles of his film career, he notes – The Godfather and Apocalypse Now – were both largely dismissed when they first appeared, and only later embraced as cinematic landmarks. “So I'm used to this,” he says. “Only as time goes by do they become more lenient.” Which is another way of saying that history, he hopes, will be kinder to his ambitions than his contemporaries have been.

And Tetro is certainly ambitious. Although made for a modest $15-million (U.S.) (financed entirely by Coppola himself, from the profits of his wine and Central American resort enterprises), it's an operatic 127-minute family saga.

It was shot largely in black and white, and principally in Buenos Aires, where he lived for 15 months.

For Coppola, now a portly 70 years old, Tetro represents a throw of the dice in any number of ways.

It's only his second film in 12 years (2007's low-key Youth Without Youth came a decade after the more commercial The Rainmaker in 1997). It's the first time he's directed from his own script since The Conversation, with Gene Hackman, 35 years ago. His stars include at least two actors of unproven provenance: Buffalo native Vincent Gallo, as noted for his music and his painting as for his acting, and said to be difficult to handle; and newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, a 19-year-old New York University drama student who looks like a young Leonardo DiCaprio and was discovered at a bat mitzvah party in Los Angeles by Steven Spielberg five years ago. The female lead, who plays Gallo's partner, is Maribel Verdu, well-known from her appearance in Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Discussing his acting choices, Coppola explained that he had originally intended to cast Matt Dillon in the role of Tetro, a brilliant American writer who has excommunicated his family and fled to a bohemian existence in Argentina. At the last minute, a conflict developed with Dillon's schedule and Coppola chose Gallo (Brown Bunny). “I had never seen Gallo's work, and he's controversial, but I liked him. I found him very bright. He gave me 100 per cent and was a good collaborator.”

Ehrenreich plays Tetro's younger brother, Bennie. Devastated by Tetro's departure, he tracks him down in Buenos Aires, determined to uncover the family's long-suppressed secrets. “It's hard to find a [teenage] actor with the kind of emotional maturity that Alden has.”

Thematically, Tetro is a film very close to home for Coppola – and deliberately so. His previous film, Youth Without Youth – based on a novel by Romanian Mircea Eliade – was almost an intellectual exercise, a discourse on time and consciousness. Coppola said he wanted Tetro to touch a more emotional nerve and, to do that, he tapped the source material he knew best, his own family.

The film's story line thus mirrors aspects of his own biography – a tale of two generations of sibling rivalry in a family of creative artists.

In the film, in both generations, the younger brother eventually supplants the elder, becoming the superior talent.

In Coppola's own family, it's hard to find a relative not immersed in some aspect of the arts. His father (flutist/arranger/composer) Carmine and uncle (opera conductor) Antonio were both musicians. His older brother, August, is a professor of comparative literature (and father of actor Nicolas Cage); his younger sister is actress Talia Shire (the mother of actor Jason Schwartzman). Coppola's own children are also in the business: Daughter Sofia (Lost in Translation) is a director and son Roman a filmmaker, and his late son, Gian-Carlo, who died in a tragic boating accident in 1986, was a film producer.

“Within any family,” says Coppola, “when one guy becomes successful, there are going to be hurt feelings.” The reverse, he adds, also applies – schadenfreude, the pleasure one derives when a rival fails.

As in Tetro, the young Francis idolized his elder brother, happily soaking up a rich cultural education.

That included some pretty exotic movie fare, such as the Tales of Hoffmann, a 1951 British adaptation of the Offenbach opera. In the film, Bennie says to Tetro, “Everything I love I learned from you.”

But Coppola isn't simply excavating the deep, love-hate well of fraternal competition. He's also interested in the gap that separates artistic and intellectual achievement from human compassion.

“I've learned that in my life,” he says. “Great genius does not always translate into generosity and bigness of spirit. Picasso, for example. Mean to his kids.” Other examples abound, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Bertolt Brecht, from Richard Wagner to Ernest Hemingway – all, at the human level, monsters of a kind. Culture, he seems to be saying, cannot save you.

In the film, Tetro's symphony-conductor father, played by Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer (Mephisto), tells his talented son, ‘there's only room for one genius in this family,” and then steals his girlfriend. Adds Coppola, with a chuckle: “You need a good villainous father to get a story going.”

These issues have clearly been preoccupying him for some time. Rummaging through some old material a few years ago, he found half a page of writing about a man staring into lights – words he'd written three decades earlier – a visual metaphor that recurs in the finished film. “And then I thought, what if the brother I knew had to make it out of the country. Which country? Well, I needed a country with a favourable exchange rate. Thus, Argentina, although it also has a great theatrical and musical tradition.” While shooting Youth without Youth in Romania, Coppola wrote the Tetro script on weekends.

Blessed with a measure of financial independence, Coppola says he plans to continue making quality films. “I'm hoping this will be like a second career for me,” he says. “I still have a lot to learn.”

Of his own decade-long retreat from directing after The Rainmaker in 1997, Coppola insists that “it was the movie business that changed, not me. It left me.” Now, he says, “They're making films for audiences that have been brainwashed by 50 years of network TV.”

The decline of quality is not confined to cinema. “We were raised in a garden of cultural greatness,” he says, “and now there are just so many weeds.”

Or, as Bennie says to Tetro in another context, “What's happened to our family?”

Tarantino: A Superstar Cinema Nerd

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Rick Groen

(Aug 16, 2009) In every Hollywood celebrity interview, there comes that point, after you've navigated the flack-lined labyrinth from holding pen to anteroom to the actual locale of the precious chit-chat, when the subject makes a grand entrance and you just can't help yourself from tumbling into the cliché: “Gee, Famous Person A looks a whole lot smaller than I imagined.” So that's the first surprise about Quentin Tarantino: He looks bigger. This is a sizable man, tall and puffy at the edges. Now here's the second surprise: He looks dead.

And not just dead tired, although the evident fatigue is understandable. Tarantino has been out beating the drums furiously for his latest picture, Inglourious Basterds (more on the misspelling later), the Second World War flick whose script was a lengthy labour of love but whose reception, when it premiered at Cannes last spring, was something less than loving. It got a mixed critical response, a cloud in the once-bright history between Cannes and Quentin. After all, the festival unveiled Reservoir Dogs to gushing acclaim and feted Pulp Fiction with its Palme d'or award. Of course, those two films are the instant legends that made their director the wunderkind of the nineties, that spread his influence far and wide for better and worse, and that had his legions of excited fans (me included) awaiting the Next Great Movie. But Jackie Brown wasn't it, nor was the Kill Bill saga nor his Death Proof half of the Grindhouse double feature. All displayed pockets of brilliance, all derived recognizably from his unique talent, but none possessed unalloyed greatness.

“ America made propaganda movies during the war, and they're pretty darned entertaining. Most were done by foreign directors exiled to Hollywood, and what's interesting is how literate and funny these movies are. ”

Exactly the same might be said (has been said) about Inglourious Basterds . When the film opens August 21, our wait will continue. Which explains his fatigue – no one toils this hard in the publicity mill unless the mill is needed. Yet his appearance, that dead look, goes beyond mere weariness. Maybe it's the fact he's garbed from head to toe in black – jacket, T-shirt, jeans, right down to those old-school sneakers. Maybe it's the bad dye job that gives his hair a preternaturally noirish sheen. Maybe it's the pancake makeup that, off-white and plastered on for an upcoming bout with the TV cameras, coats his face. Or maybe it's that puffiness and a dark cast about his eyes. Individually, each of these characteristics would be innocuous. But viewed collectively, they conspire to lend Quentin Tarantino an unnerving resemblance to a corpse just bolted from the coffin, and bearing a forgivable grudge against the undertaker's botched undertakings. Damned if he isn't looking like the star pulp in one of his fictions.

Happily, the next surprise proves far more pleasant. Verbally prodded, the corpse awakens and instantly radiates a vast intelligence, the kind of smarts that, even in a brief chat, are so crisp they're almost palpable. Sure, everybody knows that Tarantino is a cinema nerd, that he's a walking encyclopedia of movie lore – good movies, bad, artsy, trashy, American, European, Asian. Yet the revelation is that, in conversation if not always on the screen, his knowledge is tempered with an authoritative judgment that seems awfully wise. Ultimately, you might disagree with his conclusions, but you can't but help but admire their cool delivery.

For example, knowing that his films have been both heavily influenced and widely influential, I toss out that old T.S. Eliot hook – “Good artists borrow, great artists steal” – to see if he'll take a nibble. Not a chance. Tarantino smiles, recognizing the quote, but he ain't biting: “Oh, I've always liked the sound of that Eliot line, but I've never put it under the microscope.”

Ditto for the many ideas, some of them intriguing, that float around in Inglourious Basterds . Set mainly in Nazi-occupied France, it's a curious pastiche of revenge fantasy (Brad Pitt heads a lethal unit of Jewish-American commandos), unabashed propaganda (Hitler appears as a venom-spewing cartoon) and wish-fulfilment (the climax has movies, or at least their flammable film stock, literally saving the free world). Deception is its major motif – the deception that lies in performance, in language and in the creative forgery of the movie itself. In Tarantino's war, the real A-bomb is the power of pretend. But he's not about to analyze the fallout.

“All the themes in the movie, whether they be duplicity or the whole propaganda aspect, are subtextual, things that developed when I was writing the characters. My scripts have a big subtextual life, but I never pay attention to that, because when I'm doing my job, it's doing its job too. That's what is underneath. I pay attention to what's on top, trusting that, when I'm done, you can get analytic about it.”

Nicely parried, Mr. T. However, the broader subject of propaganda does strike a chord and, consulting his inner film historian, he's off and superbly running: “America made propaganda movies during the war, and they're pretty darned entertaining. Most were done by foreign directors exiled to Hollywood, and what's interesting is how literate and funny these movies are, with the sparkling dialogue you find in the thirties and forties. Like Fritz Lang's Man Hunt , with Walter Pidgeon, or Hangmen Also Die! , also by Lang, with a script by Bertolt Brecht, about the killing of Heydrich. Or Renoir's This Land is Mine , his anti-Nazi film. Or there are really fun ones like Leonide Moguy's Action in Arabia and Paris After Dark. There's even a movie called Hitler: Dead or Alive , about a millionaire who puts a bounty on Hitler and three Chicago gangsters, led by Ward Bond, go to collect it.”

Tired he may be, but all this (and more) is spoken in flawless paragraphs with seamless ease. Impressive. So is his reply when the inevitable larger question is raised. Can propaganda, whose job is to sell an idea, ever rise to the level of art, especially if the peddled idea is odious? This is where Tarantino pushes his cool judgment button. Who he attacks and who he defends are notable. First, the attack.

“Well, if the sold idea is odious to you, then the answer is obviously no. The one example, and I don't consider it artistic but other people do, is Birth of a Nation . That was done exactly as propaganda, between D.W. Griffith and Reverend [Thomas F.] Dixon who wrote it, with the hope of turning whites against blacks and raising the Klan again. And it worked. In fact, the burning cross was never a symbol of the old Klan until then. It was a screenplay invention. So that's a case where odious propaganda got out there and the Klan, now with its burning cross, was reborn. Yet that film has its apologists.”

Now the defence, of Hitler's documentarian, Leni Riefenstahl, or at least of her ode to the Berlin Olympics: “The idea behind Olympia , there's nothing odious about that at all – that's actually Riefenstahl's biggest claim to some sense of brotherhood. It's obvious she didn't feel about blacks as Hitler did because of the way she shot Jesse Owens, and the way she lived her life later.”

Riefenstahl lived a very long time later, until the ripe age of 101. Her last work, Underwater Impressions , is a pretty nature film. So, among her many debatable legacies, she's also proof of the adage that, “Old directors never die, they just become photographers.” Tarantino, 46 now, has recently revealed some sensitivity on this very subject, insisting that, “Directing is a young man's game,” and even hinting that he'll “hang up the megaphone at 60.” Pressed on this, he doesn't back down.

“In the history of cinema, you just have to look at the filmographies. Take any 10 directors that you like, and look at their last three or four films. It got really brutal when the older Hollywood directors were edging into the decades of the late sixties and seventies, and really making these ridiculously out-of-touch movies. Now our older directors aren't making out-of-touch movies, but they really don't feel like the ones they were making earlier.”

Any exceptions? Tarantino offers no concessions to the likely American suspects, to Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg or Francis Ford Coppola. Instead, he briefly cites Prizzi's Honor , made late in John Huston's career, and then heads for foreign ground: “The single best exception is a Japanese director called Kinji Fukasaku, who was the Spielberg of Japan, not because of his material but because he's really commercial. The last film he did, in his seventies, was Battle Royale , and it's the best movie of the past 20 years.”

That's quite a claim, almost as brazen as the final line spoken in Inglourious Basterds , when Tarantino's screenplay signs off with these words: “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” And does he? That smile again, through the makeup, and then more cleverness: “It's not for the chicken to speak of his own soup. Maybe three years from now I'll have more of an opinion. But, really, it was just meant to be a line for people to have fun with.”

As for the misspelling in the title, that too is more fun: “It's just an artistic stroke.” Just like the stroke on his T-shirt. My time is up but, throughout the dwindling quarter-hour, I've been struggling to decipher the lettering on that black shirt, mainly hidden beneath the buttoned sports coat. Only when I'm leaving, one press hound gone and another already starting to bark, does Tarantino open up. Literally. He flings apart the jacket, sticks out his chest, roars with transparent glee and makes his last testament. The shirt reads: “YOU BASTERDS.”

Joseph Marcell Catches ‘Fever’

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 19, 2009) *Here in the States, television fans know actor Joseph Marcell as the witty, sharp-tongued butler of the popular 90’s television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” with Will Smith. But there’s much more to the small screen star. First off, the accent is real.

The Londoner is a household name on Britain’s stage and the UK small screen. Secondly, he’s not just a funny side man, particularly in his new film “
Fever.”

Fever” is about an English cop on the run in Los Angeles who must find his estranged ex-wife and daughter before a terrorist group releases a deadly virus. With the film currently in production, Marcell took a moment to talk with EUR’s Lee Bailey about the new role and the one that made him famous in the US.

Marcell said that he was recruited for the role of Geoffrey the butler while on the stage in London.

 “I was in a production of August Wilson’s Jill Turner’s ‘Come and Gone” and apparently someone had seen me,” he recalled. “My agent said they’d just got a call from some Americans: 'They want you to put something on tape. Nothing will become of it, but sometimes you have to do these things.' So, I put it on tape and sent it off to Los Angeles. The next day they called and gave me direction, we sent it back and they asked, ‘Can he be in Los Angeles this weekend?’ I could be with them the following weekend and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Marcell starred on the hit show for its entire six-year run.

However, even with such a memorable role and a place in pop culture, Marcell reminded that his role on the show was hardly his entre into acting. He signed on for “Fresh Prince” at age 40, but he’d been making a living as an actor since he was 22 years old.

“So the people that knew me, knew me and the people that didn’t, didn’t,” he said of his rise to fame in the US. “I was simply playing a role and when it was over, I moved on to the next one. I didn’t see it as a way of life. It didn’t occur to me that perhaps people would see me as that and that (the butler) would be the only thing I can do. I can do a hundred million more things than that. I just appreciated it for what it was, and I will be forever grateful for it.”

Because of his history, Marcell told us the butler role did not typecast him – at least not worldwide.

“I don’t know how it has in the American television scene, but it certainly hasn’t in Britain,” he proclaimed. “And it hasn’t in the American theatre either because I’ve been working with the American Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC. I’m about to make a deal with the Lincoln Center (NYC) to do a new play by John Guare. It hasn’t affected me in that way. My credits as a serious actor have never been impaired by ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.’ In fact, it has only enhanced it.”

The actor said that his role on “Fresh Prince” helps to showcase his talent.

“People can see that I can easily go from one aspect of the medium to another. I can switch from stage to film and I have no problems with the discipline of either,” he said. “It has not impaired my prowess as a stage actor. ‘My God, you’ve done the show and you’re still doing theatre?!’”

“I haven’t stopped working at all. I have done a variety of things. It has always been that way. When we finished with ‘The Fresh Prince,’ I came back to London to do a series called ‘Brothers and Sisters’ about a bitter pastor of a church. For several years it was successful, and then back to the theatre and then back to L.A. to do television when it comes,” he said.

“If I stop moving, they’ll catch up with me and find me out so I try to keep moving as much as I can.”

With the new project, Marcell is staying busy. He said that he enjoyed the process of working with newcomer writer/director/actor Q.

“Our problem with film over here is a thousand times worse than it is for African-Americans. It is very difficult for young filmmakers to get reasonably established people to look at their work. However, I knew Q as a very young actor over the past 20 years and I’ve always admired him and he’s always treated me with the greatest respect,” Marcell said. “He’s a wonderful young man. He has this sense of what it is to be an elder; to be an experienced person. He said, ‘I want you to do this. I know you’re busy, but man, you’ve got to do it.’ I like to read [it] before I do it. I read it and it was marvellous.”

The veteran actor said that he was inspired by Q’s creativity and direction.

“But most of all, I admired his professionalism,” he said. “And that’s something that we suffer from a lot of here. He was a stickler for the form. Sometimes some people find that boring, but I find it really admirable because time is money. And he treated me like I was a creative artist; like I knew what I was talking about.”

Of his “Fever” character, Marcell described it as “completely left field from how the world sees me.” The character in “Fresh Prince” is a cultured Man-Friday, while “Fever” unleashes an innocent, kindly old man who turns out to be the “villain to end all villains.”

And of being offered and taking on the polar opposite of the American favourite Geoffrey, Marcell said he was flattered.

“I am not tall, dark, and handsome. My kudos comes from the fact that I am very good at what I do. So what I try to do is do as many different things as I can to show how versatile I am. And thanks to the Lord above, people give me the opportunity,” he said.

To find out the latest on “Fever,” check the website at www.feverthemovie.co.uk or IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi3391488537/

Oscar-Winning Director Ang Lee Talks about His New Movie and More

Source: Kam Williams

Ang Lee was born on October 23, 1954 in Chauchou, a town located in Pingtun, an agricultural region of southern Taiwan . He was raised there by strict parents who put an emphasis on education, especially on cultivating an appreciation of Chinese culture. He attended Taiwan ’s National University of Arts and served in the military before immigrating to America where he earned a .B.F.A. in Theater Direction at the University of Illinois , and a Master’s degree in Film Production at N.Y.U.

Mr. Lee made his directorial debut in 1992 with Pushing Hands, a dramedy highlighting the tension between tradition and modernity which arises when a retired Tai Chi master moves to the U.S. to live with his Westernized son. His next two offerings, The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), each landed an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Film category.

Since then, the versatile director has successfully tackled an impressive variety of genres, reflected in a resume which includes a literary classic (Sense and Sensibility), a dysfunctional family drama (The Ice Storm), a Western (Ride with the Devil), a gay-themed romance (Brokeback Mountain), an erotic, espionage thriller (Lust, Caution), a comic book adaptation (Hulk) and a martial arts fairytale (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Although Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did take home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the deserving Mr. Lee himself was overlooked by the Academy as the picture’s director. He finally won in 2006 for Brokeback Mountain , a tale of forbidden love starring the late Heath Ledger. Here, he talks about his new film, Taking Woodstock, a comedy about the 1969 concert which helped define the Hippie Generation.

Kam Williams: Mr. Lee, thanks so much for the time. I’m honoured to be speaking with you.

Ang Lee: Oh, you’re welcome.

KW: What interested you in telling this particular story?

AL: Well, a couple things. It just came upon me. While I was at a TV station in San Francisco promoting my last movie, Lust, Caution, I met Elliot Tiber, the author of Taking Woodstock. We were both appearing on the same show. He was coming on after me. When my segment had finished, while they were preparing for him, he gave me a two-minute pitch. It struck me, because years ago I had made The Ice Storm, which was set in 1973, as a sort of hangover of 1969. So, my mind became really intrigued thinking about ’69 when he started telling me about Woodstock and some of the anecdotes. Also, I was looking to do a comedy, after shooting a series of six tragedies in a row. So, I read the book, and it all just happened very quickly.

KW: You’re a very versatile director. Laz Lyles was wondering whether you feel any pressure to make movies about China . 

AL: Chinese culture is my roots… where I grew up… Taiwan …  So, yes, I do feel compelled and also a lot of pressure to make Chinese movies. But they take a lot out of me. It is very hard for me to make art out of them. [Chuckles] It’s too close. It can be painful and very heavy. Plus, I want to upgrade the production to the level I think it is in America . That’s an added stress for everyone who works with me, and even on the audience, too. I’m kind of in the vanguard of the industry’s development and cultural events, and that adds a lot of weight on me. It’s just not freedom. After I make a Chinese film, it takes so much out of me that I usually feel like I need to do a few English films to recover. [Laughs]   

KW: How is making a movie in America more free?

AL: Nobody makes movies like America , where you have a very healthy support of the industry, abundant materials and worldwide distribution. So, by doing English-language films you can fulfill a lot of dreams. That’s the freedom part of making non-Chinese films. 

KW: I remember when I attended a critics’ screening of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before it opened, there was cheering in the middle of the movie simply at the stunning special effects. All of us knew we were witnessing something very special.

AL: I hope that emotion was part of that cheering, too. I went back to my childish wishful thinking. It’s a fantasy. In some way, you relate to the innocence when you go to the movies to begin with. I think the movie deals with my innocence, and a lot of people could relate to that. Because it was a foreign film and because it was martial arts, it was something that they were sort of aware but didn’t quite know. I think that allowed people to go to an emotional world which fulfilled their fantasies. I think that’s why that movie works, but I didn’t have that in mind when I made it.

KW: I also remember being upset that Crouching Tiger did not win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Script Adaptation and Best Editing. I know you’re much too polite to say it, but I can say it for you. You were robbed! I wrote that at the time. I also thought it was a crime that none of the actors in the movie were even nominated, especially Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang. And the same thing happened this year to the actors in Slumdog Millionaire. None were nominated, yet it won Best Picture.  

AL: Well, there’s a community in Hollywood , I think, the Academy. Sense and Sensibility got nominated in seven categories, including Best Picture, but I was not nominated. I guess it might take a few movies for them to become aware of you. [LOL]  

KW: Let’s talk a little about Taking Woodstock. I haven’t seen the movie yet. It’s based on the memoirs of a gay man. Did you keep in much of his childhood?

AL: No, I didn’t use much about how he grew up. That’s too long a story to tell. I started with his encounter with Woodstock . Honestly, I didn’t find a lot of his gay issues to be that fresh. My main interest was in seeing how he connected to Woodstock , the event, from his angle. We don’t get to see the stage. That’s sort of besides the point. I followed the lead of the book. If you take Woodstock to heart, that’s what happened to most of the people who attended, and to the world at large. Woodstock ’s sort of an abstract idea that’s very inspiring. The film is a small family drama focusing on his experience just on the outskirts of the stage and the event. It’s probably a very good way to have a slice and taste of Woodstock . He’s gay and everything, and we deal with that, but only in so far as it pertains to Woodstock .

KW: Ling-Ju Yen was wondering whether since winning your Academy Award for Best Director you feel pressure from either people at home or from the media that, from this point on, every single movie you make has got to be Oscar-worthy?

AL: I don’t think anybody’s saying that I have to win an Oscar or have to shoot for it. But I just came back from the Cannes Film Festival, and they certainly talk about it. So, that’s a kind of pressure, but only my personal feelings. If I can put that aside, I don’t think anybody really gets upset. [Chuckles]. It’s not like the sort of pressure the Lakers feel playing for the City of Los Angeles . With a movie, people sometimes speculate about whether an actor or actress who did a good job might get nominated. It’s a plus for the project, but you don’t always aim for the awards.

KW: You directed the late Heath Ledger to his first Academy Award-nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain . How did you feel when he died and what did you think of his Oscar-winning outing as The Joker in The Dark Knight? 

AL: that’s a hard question for me to answer. I was eager to see the movie, but I delayed, because I wanted to avoid it, too. Finally, about two or three weeks after it was released, I went to see it. It was quite disturbing, especially with him playing that character. I didn’t have a good time. It disturbed me to watch him. It was just very difficult, personally.

KW: You were at NYU at the same time as Spike Lee. Is there any truth to the rumour that you were the cinematographer on his student film, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop?

AL: He was a year ahead of me. I was a camera assistant, but not the only one.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

AL: No, not off the top of my head. I really wish they asked fewer questions. [Laughs]

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

AL: Yes. Fear is actually one of the motivations for me to take on something. It gives me the thrill.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

AL: Yes.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

AL: That’s a tricky question to try to answer, because I actually had to make some effort to be happy. Shooting Taking Woodstock, I had some good laughs. But if you had asked me that same question after I finished making the movie before this one, I would be hard pressed to say when I last had a heartfelt laugh. I am so heavy, and that’s why I need to do a comedy when I feel this inner exhaustion. So, Taking Woodstock was a project that came at the right time because it helped dig me out of that heaviness. There was something I was looking for in search of the subconscious, something I don’t understand about myself, to get deeper. And then I needed to be healthier, happier, and more in love with everybody around me and making the movie with me. That’s why I chose a project dealing with happiness and innocence. I miss that as much as people miss the Sixties. So, when this project came along it was pretty handy. But still, I had to make the decision to be happy, and I had to make sure that everybody around me was happy, which takes a certain sophistication. And it did happen, and I did have some good laughs. I feel that all the time in the excitement of making a movie, but I won’t admit. Speaking of fear, you think something terrible will happen if you admit you’re excited and happy while in the middle of making a movie. [Laughs] I sort of felt that I had earned that right, to just enjoy making a movie. So, this was that project for me.    

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

AL: A book about religion called A History of God.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to nowadays? 

AL: Right now, I’m beginning to listen to Indian music. Normally, I’m more into Classical. But for Taking Woodstock, I had to soak up a lot of pop music.

KW: What would you say has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?

AL: The biggest obstacle? In making movies?

KW: In life.

AL: Insecurity.

KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

AL: Oh there are a lot. So many people can be heroes. Right now, Kobe Bryant’s the hero. That’ll last for maybe a week.

KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?

AL: By being open-minded, and sharing in my growth experience. Some of my fans, if I’m allowed to say “fans,” are very nice and see everything I make. Others get stuck on a certain movie they really love, and can get angry if the next one’s not along those lines. That places a lot of pressure on me, not that I would do anything differently. But I just hope that whether they like a film or not, they would watch me grow and see what they could get from the experience. That would be best.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

AL: Myself. I think it’s very important to be honest, to be able to look yourself in the eye and say, “That’s me.” 

KW: What is your favourite meal to cook?

AL: I only cook Chinese. I make a pretty good noodle sauce and also a dish called Lion’s Head. It’s Chinese meatballs.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

AL: Oh, I say, “Don’t!” [LOL] Over the years, I’ve noticed that the people who make movies are the ones that cannot be discouraged. You can tell them all the bad things, but they still want to do it. They can’t help themselves. So, I don’t thing anybody needs my advice. I will say, that if you want to be a director, it’s best if you learn to write and create your own material. 

KW: When you’re creating, do you think in English or in Chinese?

AL: In Chinese, most of the time. But for something like Woodstock , where the original material comes directly from English, much of my thinking about it would be in English.  

KW: Where do you live?

AL: I live in upstate New York .

KW: Near Woodstock ?

AL: No, not that far north.

KW: What’s next on your agenda?

AL: I’m going to Asia to do some research.

KW: Well, thanks for giving me such a thought-provoking interview, Mr. Lee.

AL: Thank you. Some of your questions were hard to answer, like the hero question. In terms of filmmakers, I’d say [Ingmar] Bergman is one. His movies were an epiphany for me to go into the business. But there are so many great heroes in the world of filmmaking, it would be unfair for me to name just a few. But Bergman’s a safe bet.

KW: Well, thanks again, and best of luck with Taking Woodstock.

AL: Thank you, bye.

To see a trailer for Taking Woodstock, visit HERE.   

FILM TIDBITS

Michael Caine, Chris Rock Set For Intimate Chats at TIFF

Source: www.thestar.com - The Canadian Press

(August 18, 2009) Actor Michael Caine, comedian Chris Rock and Canadian director Atom Egoyan are among the stars set to get intimate with fans at the Toronto International Film Festival. Caine and Rock have signed on to the "Mavericks" showcase, in which industry types appear onstage before audiences for Q-and-A's about their latest projects at the festival. Directors Barry Levinson and Peter Berg and documentarian Frederick Wiseman are also in the Mavericks line-up for the festival, which kicks off Sept. 10. Toronto-based Egoyan, meanwhile, will be interviewed onstage as part of a "Master Class" at the festival. Cinema lovers can also catch Oscar-winning screenwriter Neil Jordan as he participates in the festivals "In Dialogues: Talking With Pictures." The showcase sees filmmakers and actors presenting films that have inspired them or have marked a significant period in their careers. Other participants in the "In Dialogues" showcase include director Joe Dante and Toronto talents Ted Kotcheff and Sook-Yin Lee. In the "Talent Lab" session for emerging filmmakers, Toronto actor-director Don McKellar returns as one of four mentors. "Talent Lab" guests include Egoyan, actor Tilda Swinton and Montreal director Ivan Reitman.

Tyson

Source: www.thestar.com - Peter Howell

(Sony Pictures Classics)
http://ca.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f278005%5fAMslvs4AATZISosm6Q4S2TNSFQY&pid=5&fid=Inbox&inline=1http://ca.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f278005%5fAMslvs4AATZISosm6Q4S2TNSFQY&pid=6&fid=Inbox&inline=1http://ca.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f278005%5fAMslvs4AATZISosm6Q4S2TNSFQY&pid=7&fid=Inbox&inline=1(out of 4)

(August 18, 2009) James Toback fashioned a sharp documentary out of a blunt object.
Mike Tyson was the self-styled "Baddest Man on the Planet" in his heyday of the late 1980s and 1990s, dominating heavyweight boxing.  The law caught up with him: Tyson spent three years in jail in the 1990s for rape. But there are always tales and tears behind the headlines. Big, bad Mike is deep down a misunderstood softie. He was bullied at school, taunted for his pet pigeons and treated like a dumb lisping lug. He says he learned to fight because "I'm just afraid of being treated that way again." Like a man in a 12-step program – he also spent time in rehab – the ex-champ confesses his sins in straight-to-camera testimonials. Toback lets his subject speak at length, interspersed with archival boxing footage. This is no objective appraisal – there are almost no commentators besides Tyson. But it's fascinating.  Extras include a Toback commentary and several featurettes.

Death Row Records To Shoot Feature Film

Source:
www.globeandmail.com

(August 19, 2009) Toronto — Death Row Records, recently risen from the ashes of bankruptcy, intends to venture into film production, according to The Hollywood Reporter. CEO Lara Lavi, who also heads the Toronto-based WIDEawake Entertainment Group, said Death Row Films will begin shooting Sons 2 The Grave, a film about a young basketball star felled by gunshot wounds returning to life in the ghetto, in October. The film will be scored using the rap label's huge catalogue of songs, much of which Lavi says the public has never heard. Death Row Records was once a powerhouse of the music industry and the dominant source of West Coast rap, selling 50 million records and making international stars of such rappers as Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. But co-founder Suge Knight became embroiled in years of legal and financial troubles and the company collapsed in 2006. Lavi bought the label this year for $18-million at a public auction. Staff

Anthony Mackie Joins The 'Bureau'

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 19, 2009) *Anthony Mackie ("The Hurt Locker") has joined the cast of Universal's sci-fi thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," opposite Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, reports Variety.   Written and directed by George Nolfi and adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story, the plot centers on a smooth-talking congressman whose political future is thrown in doubt by the arrival of a mysterious ballerina in his life.    Mackie is currently appearing in "The Bacchae" in New York as part of Shakespeare in the Park.    "The Adjustment Bureau" will shoot in New York immediately following the wrap of the play.

Terrence Howard In A 'Little' Somethin'

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 19, 2009) *Terrence Howard has secured a spot in the Lake Bell and Josh Lucas-led indie thriller "Little Murder," reports Variety.  The film is set in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and centers on a disgraced detective (Lucas) who gets an unexpected shot at redemption when the ghost of a beautiful cellist (Bell) solicits his help in finding her killer.  Peter "Gaga" Antonijevic is directing. Production is set to begin next week in New Orleans.     Howard will next be seen in Lucasfilms' "Red Tails."

Rosario Dawson Hops On 'Unstoppable'

Source: www.eurweb.com

(August 19, 2009) *Rosario Dawson has joined Denzel Washington and Chris Pine in director Tony Scott's "Unstoppable," reports Production Weekly.   The action-thriller, which 20th Century Fox is targeting for a Nov. 12, 2010 release, follows an unmanned train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. The film pits an engineer (Washington) and his young conductor (Pine) in a race against time.    Pre-production is underway in Pittsburgh, with shooting set to begin this fall.   The entire project was thrown into limbo several weeks ago when Fox tried to cut both Washington and Scott's salaries, causing Washington to exit the film.    Fox reportedly begged Washington to return to the bargaining table and both parties worked out a deal.

::TV NEWS::

Kids In The Hall Filming Murder-Mystery Miniseries

Source: www.thestar.com -
The Canadian Press

(August 17, 2009) The Kids in the Hall are venturing to North Bay for a goofy murder-mystery miniseries that's set to air in January on CBC.

Producers say cameras started rolling Monday for Death Comes to Town, a suspenseful, eight-part comedy starring members of the comical Toronto-based troupe.

Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thomson also co-wrote the program, about the murder of a high-profile citizen in Shuckton, Ont.

McCulloch is an executive producer for the project and also conceived the idea for the program, the troupe's first together in 15 years.

The actors will each play multiple roles, and producers say that may include some characters from the original Kids in the Hall series.

Characters created for the miniseries include Shuckton's mayor and his alcoholic wife, a "germ-gel" sniffing town criminal, a pizza delivery woman with Alzheimer's, and a 600-pound ex-hockey star.

The central character is named Death.

Principal photography is scheduled to continue in North Bay until early October.

The Kids in the Hall sketch comedy series went off the air on CBC in 1994. Since then, each member has pursued independent projects in Canada and the U.S.

The comedy troupe reunited last year for a cross-Canada comedy tour that had them revive their beloved sketch characters.

In December, Foley also said the Kids are thinking about hitting the big screen with a feature film.

Well Before Don Draper And Mad Men , The Mold Was Set For Caddish Behaviour Onscreen

Source:  www.thestar.com - Rob Salem, Television Columnist

(Aug 16, 2009) PASADENA–It almost seemed, for the first few days of the just-ended TV critics tour, that we had been overrun by Mad Men... Mad Men signing autographs, Mad Men on the red carpet, Mad Men hoisting highballs at AMC's opening-night cocktail party, and again a few nights later, after the Television Critics Association Awards, toasting the popular `60s-set series' second consecutive win.

There were Mad Women too – a few could be seen slinking off for a cigarette, an unfortunate occupational hazard of faking it for the camera for months on end. Out of period costume, they're almost unrecognizable.

The men are infinitely easier to spot, even stripped of their pinstripes, skinny lapels and ties, pork-pies and fedoras. Leave those sartorial choices to all the trendy young L.A. scene-makers going for ironically retro cachet.

The trend shows no signs of stopping. The much-anticipated third season of Mad Men arrives tonight (AMC at 10) on the heels of a massive $25 million (U.S.) promotional campaign, with the Banana Republic clothing chain hawking lines of mens' and womens' Mad-wear and the chance to win a walk-on role (the response was such that, even before it was over, entries had all but overloaded the designated contest web-servers).

Madison Avenue at its height could not have come with a more impactful marketing strategy.

The Mad Men "look" is the biggest television-generated male fashion phenomenon since Davy Crockett's coonskin cap (with the possible exception of Sonny Crockett's Miami Vice signature pastel palette).

Such is our newfound nostalgia for the period's indisputably distinctive style we tend to overlook the fact that these icons of male fashion were, almost to a man, arrogant, alcoholic, chain-smoking misogynists. And indeed, that's a large part of Mad Men's escalating appeal.

The 1960s were a superficially "simpler" time (though in fact they were anything but), a time when such deplorable traits were considered charming, even admirable. Swinging bachelorhood was something to be aspired to; Playboy magazine the textbook of quintessential maleness. It was the golden age of the womanizing cad.

Put it this way – when the decade began, the famously philandering John F. Kennedy was President of the United States, and when it ended, serial dater Pierre Elliott Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada. Meanwhile, the Rat Pack was working their way through the Vegas chorus lines to reign supreme over contemporary popular culture.

Pour me another one, pally. Who's the skirt?

Though there was no shortage of regrettable role models, the Rat Pack personified `60s Alpha Male behaviours, none more so than its ring-a-ding ringleaders, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra – and in that order, Dino being the vastly more charismatic of the two.

Frank gave it his all, in films like Come Blow Your Horn and The Tender Trap, but his beginnings as a bobby-sox crooner and public mooning over lost love Ava Gardner tended to undermine his bad-boy cred. Martin, on the other hand, crafted an entire career on exaggerated booze-fuelled lechery, on film and in live performance, and ultimately weekly prime-time TV.

It all somehow begins and ends with Dean. Who else, for example, could out-cad even the formidable Sean Connery's James Bond, a man so potent his sexual conquests rarely ever lived to regret it. Dean's lesser-known knock-off superspy, Matt Helm, may have had a better survival rate in his four films, but while Bond was busy flirting with Miss Moneypenny, you just knew there was a lot more going on between Matt and his secretary, Lovey Kravezit.

Dean Martin's example was not lost on his former partner Jerry Lewis, though Lewis' consummate comic cad, The Nutty Professor's Buddy Love, was not, as is widely believed, intended as a send-up of his estranged singing straight man.

Lewis himself played relative straight man to the somewhat more tangibly caddish Tony Curtis in the reprehensibly sexist comedy Boeing Boeing, a Flint-like scenario involving rotating flight attendants.

Peter O'Toole turned the tables on his well-worn womanizing persona as a reluctant rogue who aspires to fidelity in What's New Pussycat?, a film not insignificantly featuring a title track sung by musical misogynist Tom Jones, and a script penned by latent lothario Woody Allen. Michael Caine's more overt Cockney cad, Alfie, was controversial even at the time.

Even dapper Cary Grant was capable of cad-hood, notably dogging virgin queen Doris Day in 1962's That Touch of Mink – briefly supplanting her pursuing paramour of record, Rock Hudson, in several memorable if one-sided rom coms, including the Madison Avenue-set Lover Come Back, a virtual template for Mad Men's Don Draper.

Of course, the great irony there, as we would later learn, is that Hudson was possibly more attracted to co-star Tony Randall.

If you are looking for Don Draper's ultimate role model, though, you have to go back to 1960 and the Oscar-winning Billy Wilder classic, The Apartment, with a creepily caddish Fred MacMurray as the biggest wolf in the corporate pack, driving poor lovelorn elevator operator Shirley Maclaine to the brink of suicide (and straight into the arms of schlubby good guy Jack Lemmon).

If there is any hope for Draper at all, it is to follow MacMurray's later example, straighten up and settle down as a benevolently distant father-figure to a brood of sitcom children – in My Three Sons.

CBS News Pioneer Don Hewitt Dies At 86

Source: www.thestar.com - David Bauder,
The Associated Press

(August 19, 2009) NEW YORK – Don Hewitt, the CBS Newsman who invented 60 Minutes and produced the popular newsmagazine for 36 years, died Wednesday. He was 86.

He died of pancreatic cancer at his Bridgehampton home, CBS said. His death came month after that of fellow CBS legend Walter Cronkite.

Hewitt joined CBS News in television's infancy in 1948, and produced the first televised presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.

He made his mark in the late 1960s when CBS agreed to try his idea of a one-hour broadcast that mixed hard news and feature stories. The television newsmagazine was born on Sept. 24, 1968, when the 60 Minutes stopwatch began ticking.

He dreamed of a television version of Life, the dominant magazine of the mid-20th century, where interviews with entertainers could coexist with investigations that exposed corporate malfeasance.

"The formula is simple," he wrote in a memoir in 2001, "and it's reduced to four words every kid in the world knows: Tell me a story. It's that easy."

Hard-driven reporter Mike Wallace, Hewitt's first hire, became the journalist those in power did not want on their doorsteps. Harry Reasoner, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley and Diane Sawyer also reported for the show.

60 Minutes won 73 Emmy Awards, 13 DuPont/Columbia University Awards and nine Peabody Awards during Hewitt's stewardship, which ended in 2004.

After Cronkite's death at age 92 on July 17, Hewitt said, "How many news organizations get the chance to bask in the sunshine of a half-century of Edward R. Murrow followed by a half-century of Walter Cronkite?''

Hewitt often said the accepted wisdom for television news writers before "60 Minutes" was to put words to pictures. He believed that was backward.

A Sunday evening fixture, "60 Minutes" was television's top-rated show four times, most recently in 1992-93. While no longer a regular in the top 10 in Hewitt's later years, it was still TV's most popular newsmagazine.

Upon the launch of 60 Minutes, Hewitt recalled that news executive Bill Leonard told him to "make us proud."

"Which may well be the last time anyone ever said `make us proud' to anyone else in television," he wrote in his memoir. ``Because Leonard said `make us proud' and not `make us money,' we were able to do both, which I think makes us unique in the annals of television.''

As executive producer, Hewitt was responsible for deciding each week which stories would make it on the air. Correspondents and producers alike would wait nervously in screening rooms for his verdict on their work.

Among his other jobs, Hewitt directed the first network television newscast on May 3, 1948. He originated the use of cue cards for news readers, now done by electronic machines. He was the first to "superimpose" words on the TV screen for a news show.

Before the 1960 presidential debate, Hewitt asked Kennedy if he wanted makeup. Tanned and fit, Kennedy said no. Nixon followed his lead. Big mistake.

"As every student of politics knows, that debate – like a Miss America contest – turned on who made the better appearance, not with what he said but with how he looked," Hewitt recalled later. ``Kennedy won hands down.''

Hewitt did not retire completely. In 2007, he produced a televised version of the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular,'' bringing the venerable show to a national TV audience for the first time – on NBC.

Donald Shepard Hewitt was born in New York City on Dec. 14, 1922, and grew up in the suburb of New Rochelle. He dropped out of New York University to become a copy boy at the New York Herald Tribune. He joined the Merchant Marines during World War II and worked as a correspondent posted to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's London headquarters.

After the war and a few brief journalism jobs, he took a job as an associate director at CBS News in 1948.

During his tenure, "60 Minutes" was often a place where people came to make news. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton addressed questions of infidelity in 1992, and Al Gore used the show to announce he wouldn't run for president in 2004.

Hewitt often said he was proud of his show's ability to exonerate innocent people through investigations, such as when a Texas man sent to jail for life for robbery was freed after Safer discredited the evidence against him.

When "60 Minutes" showed a tape of Dr. Jack Kevorkian lethally injecting a patient in 1998, it ignited a debate on euthanasia and the proper role of a TV news show.

Hewitt was the subject of an unflattering portrait in the 1999 movie "The Insider," which depicted him caving to pressure from CBS lawyers and not airing a whistle blowing report from an ex-tobacco executive. The full report eventually aired.

Although bitter at the former 60 Minutes producer who became a hero of "The Insider" for fighting to air the story, Hewitt later said he wasn't proud of his actions.

Hewitt had said he wanted to "die at my desk," creating a delicate situation for CBS. The show's ratings were declining and it had the oldest audience in television, as well as some of the oldest correspondents.

Hewitt, then 80, was persuaded to announce in January 2003 that he would step down at the conclusion of the 2003-2004 season, which he did. In return, CBS gave him a contract that would pay him through age 90.

Hewitt and his wife, Marilyn, had four children.

TV TIDBITS

Ernie Hudson Joins 'Heroes' Cast

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Aug 13, 2009) *NBC's "Heroes" will feature Ernie Hudson in the recurring role of a Baltimore detective when the series returns for its new season this fall.  Producers wouldn't provide details about the story line, but Hudson's character, Captain Lubbock, is understood to be on the hunt for one of the other characters on the show, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Heroes" marks a return to the police beat for Hudson, who played a detective on ABC's "Desperate Housewives." He also played a senior deputy on ABC's comedy-drama "10-8: Officers on Duty." He recently finished work on the "Smokin' Aces" prequel. The upcoming fourth season of "Heroes" introduces a new mythology about a traveling carnival of people with special powers, run by a charismatic but evil Earth-moving ringleader (Robert Knepper). 

New 'Dancing With The Stars' Cast Revealed

Source:
www.globeandmail.com - Robert Everett-Green, The Associated Press

(August 17, 2009) New York —Sixteen celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics will be kicking up their heels on the new season of Dancing With the Stars . The show's largest cast ever, announced Monday, features singers Mya, Macy Gray and Aaron Carter; actors Ashley Hamilton, Melissa Joan Hart and Debi Mazar; and models Joanna Krupa and Kathy Ireland. Contestants also include reality stars Mark Dacascos and Kelly Osbourne; entertainer Donny Osmond; mixed martial artist Chuck Liddell; professional snowboarder Louie Vito; Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin; former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The ninth season of the hit ABC show premieres Sept. 21.

Steve Harvey Joins 'Good Morning America'

Source: www.eurweb.com  

(August 18, 2009)  *The recession has nothing on Steve Harvey. The veteran radio jock –who has often carried two or three jobs at a time – just got another new gig courtesy of ABC's "Good Morning America."  The comedian will contribute family and relationship-related segments to the morning program, with his first report scheduled to air tomorrow (Aug. 19). The 52-year-old Harvey will continue to host his nationally-syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show, heard in 60 markets around the nation. He also just finished hosting his annual Hoodie Awards, which honours local businesses, churches and high schools for their community contributions.  Harvey authored the best-selling book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," and he previously starred in his self-titled sitcom for seven seasons on the WB network.

::THEATRE NEWS::

Stratford Festival: Yanna Mcintosh Is Ready For Royalty's Lighter Side

Source:  www.thestar.com - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Aug 15, 2009) If you find yourself playing poker at the
Stratford Shakespeare Festival this summer, you would be well advised to steer clear of Yanna McIntosh. It's not that the lady cheats; it's simply that she's holding the strongest hand at the festival this season: three queens.

She has already made a substantial impression as the Queen of Scotland in Macbeth and the Imperial Consort of Rome in Julius Caesar.

Now she's getting ready to complete the regal hat-trick as Titania, Queen of the Fairies, in the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that opens Aug. 21.

Ask how she feels about the plum roles she has been given this summer and she pauses, then answers in that clear, decisive way of hers.

"It goes from feeling like a dream come true to a really scary nightmare. It's that old thing of `be careful of what you wish for.'"

McIntosh's mixed feelings don't have anything to do with the creative artists surrounding her, all of whom she praises extravagantly, but with the sheer scope of the roles and the fact that, for her, Lady Macbeth in particular is "a part I wanted to play even before I knew I wanted to be an actor."

The Jamaican-born McIntosh and her family moved to Toronto when she was 2. From the start, her focus was on being a teacher. There was one dark and glorious exception, and that was the first play by the Bard she ever encountered: Macbeth.

"You can't recapture the experience of the first time you read a Shakespeare play. I found it a very thrilling play and the relationship between Macbeth and his wife is probably the most exciting part of it.

"There's a mutual desire there, not just for each other, but for what they could accomplish together that they could never do apart. They make a powerful and dangerous mix. Even back then, it's something I felt very drawn to."

But those theatrical yearnings were something McIntosh laid aside for a while, even though she concedes – in that sphinx-like way that made her Condoleezza Rice in the Berkeley Street Theatre's 2008 production of Stuff Happens so effective – that "the thought of acting for a career might have occurred to me and I might have thought that I could do it."

She was in the middle of her studies at University of Toronto, on track to becoming a teacher, when her plans shifted.

"I met an amazing theatre arts professor named Ute Birnbaum, who was visiting from Germany," McIntosh recalls.

"She actually made acting for a living sound normal and, when I told her about how conflicted I was with my desire to become a teacher, she laughed and said, `An actor should always have another profession.'"

McIntosh began taking theatre courses and participating in shows. Even so, after she got her undergraduate degree, she went on to teachers' college. Only when that was completed did the methodical young woman turn her attention back to theatre.

"I had a choice between the National Theatre School and Harvard. I picked Harvard because they had a professional company and it seemed more appealing to me to be around older people."

But it proved to be one of the few miscalculations in McIntosh's orderly life. "It wasn't all I hoped it would be," she says. "They were only four years along in their program and they were still trying to work things out. Looking back, I realize it was all pretty catch as catch can, even though I had good voice and movement training."

McIntosh is speaking with considerable understatement. When one recalls her greatest performances (Belle, Hedda Gabler, Mary Stuart), it's her impeccable diction and regal bearing that are unforgettable.

There was another problem at Harvard. "There was the issue of race," McIntosh says carefully. "I really didn't get any significant roles until my final year."

Then she laughs, diffusing the moment. "But I guess every acting student feels that going through theatre school: `They just don't appreciate me.'"

McIntosh pauses for reflection. "Things have certainly changed a lot in the years I've been doing this, but I still feel there's a way to go. There are still some roles where I'm not thought of, where I have to make the suggestion."

She feels Stratford has made enormous headway and praises the fact that "Des (McAnuff) and Antoni (Cimolino) are quite committed to having their acting company reflect the population at large."

After the emotional and literal explosions of Macbeth and Julius Caesar, McIntosh finds it a relief to escape into the world of A Midsummer Night's Dream, although she's quick to caution potential audience members that "it's not all pretty wings and pastels. It's set in the late 1950s, with the lovers and the comic characters all edging toward the world of rock 'n' roll."

Between the murders and mayhem and sexual antics that overflow McIntosh's plate this summer, you might imagine she's a bit overwhelmed. But if you did, then you wouldn't know Yanna McIntosh. "It's all very exciting," she declares firmly, "and I'm having a great deal of fun."

::COMEDY  NEWS::

Comics And Indie Bands Making Beautiful Music Together

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - Kerry Gold

(Aug 16, 2009) Vancouver — It's Sunday night, and in the unlikely environment of a generic restaurant, there is evidence that a subculture movement is well underway.

A young comedy troupe holds a packed room enthralled with a two-hour improvisational routine. Young comics Ryan Beil, Taz Van Rassel, Aaron Reed and Kevin Lee perform weekly as stars of The Sunday Service, one of a growing multitude of underground comedy nights around the city. They aren't the comedy troupes of old – there are no middle-aged guys standing against a brick wall with a microphone and opening lines like, “Don't you hate it when…” Instead, the performers dive into long improv pieces and sketch comedy that capitalizes on the current trend toward absurdist humour (ever wonder what's it's like to be trapped inside a giant space worm?), and buzzes with pop culture references.

And while they might drop an f-bomb now and then, the joking never gets filthy. Bob Saget take note.

The room isn't holding the usual comedy club audience of frat boys and stagette parties, either. Instead, it's packed each week with the kind of twentysomethings you might find at an indie-music show.

Their loyalty is why 26-year-old comedian Conor Holler and a handful of other promoters decided to launch the first Olio Festival this past week, which includes some of The Sunday Service comics on its program. After noticing a growing crossover audience for indie music and underground comedy, creating a festival that combined the two was a no-brainer. The festival, which ran Aug. 13 to 16, brought some of the brightest comics from around Vancouver, Seattle and other farther afield places together to share stages with indie bands such as Bend Sinister, Jaws and the Defektors.

The alliance of music and comedy isn't a new one – comics played in jazz clubs in the fifties and sixties, and Bobcat Goldthwait opened for Nirvana (Kurt Cobain was a fan of his act.) A few years later, David Cross and Janeane Garofalo appeared in a Superchunk video. But the commingling of comics and indie music artists has never been in such full swing as it is now. Blame it on kids being bored with television and karaoke nights – whatever the reason, it's a movement that's spawning fresh young comics in North American cities everywhere.

“People going to indie music shows are the same types of people that we're targeting,” says Holler, who is curator for the comedy portion of Olio. “The big comedy club environment is still popular, but there's a new movement that is going against that vein of comedy.”

To the irritation of some, the trend is often referred to as “alternative comedy” or “indie comedy.” Comics often open for popular indie bands, or play music festivals such as Austin, Texas's South by Southwest or Vancouver's Music Waste. In other words, comedy has become cool. Even Seattle's Sub Pop Records – the label made famous by Nirvana – has signed comedians such as Cross, Eugene Mirman and Patton Oswalt. Last year, one of the label's biggest-selling releases was the Flight of the Conchords' debut album. The New Zealand indie music-comedy duo is best known for its hit HBO comedy series about a pair of Kiwi musicians struggling to make it in New York.

Kevin Maher, front man for Fake Shark – Real Zombie!, a Vancouver-based alternative band (self-described as “today's answer to Faith No More”) that also played the Olio Festival, counts himself as a musician influenced by a lot of comedians.

“I am more inclined to be excited to see a comedian than a band,” he says. “I think that there's been a revival of alternative comedians that is similar to the boom of the punk bands in the late 70s, early 80s. … comedians Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt and David Cross [are like] what it was when the Ramones happened back then.”

Comics say the strength of the underground scene is that it attracts the pure of heart – artists not just looking to make a fast buck, and audiences looking for more than cheap jokes. It means the most creative and different get a chance to thrive.

Graham Clark, who grew up idolizing Pee-wee Herman, ran a live comedy show in Vancouver for five years called the Laugh Gallery. For a time, the show featured Zach Galifianakis, star of the current hit movie The Hangover . Clark has opened for comedians such as Brent Butt, and is a regular on the CityNews List, a daily TV news panel show that features other young Vancouver comedians.

The 28-year-old has been doing professional comedy for more than a decade, and is one of the better-known names to play the Olio Festival. Until the TV show, he was working in a warehouse. He sees the current underground comedy boom as a rebuilding of an art form that lost its way.

“There are a lot more comics now,” says Clark, seated in a Gastown bar. “I know in the eighties [comedy] took a huge hit because there were so many people doing it and it became mass produced. Everybody was doing impressions. There were [Jerry] Seinfeld copycats. I think that's why people thought comedy was stupid and lame,” he explains.

“Then the whole industry died because it was too overblown and mass produced, which drove it underground a bit. But I always thought comedy was the best thing a person could do.”

Maher concurs that unlike the 1980s, when it might cost $60 to see a comedian at a “pretentious club,” ticket prices for alternative comedy run anywhere from $5 to $20. “It's more of a grassroots thing.”

::OTHER  NEWS::

OTHER TIDBITS

Vibe Magazine Back From The Dead

Source:  www.eurweb.com

(Aug 13, 2009)  After folding in late June due to financial issues, Vibe magazine and its Web site have been resurrected by Leo Hindery’s PE firm InterMedia Partners and its luxury publisher Uptown Media, reports Reuters. Vibe.com will be the focal point of revival plans described in the Wall Street Journal. The new publishers intend to reopen the site in coming weeks, publish a print edition at the end of the year and then go quarterly.  CapitalSource Bank foreclosed on Vibe's previous owner, Wicks Group, after they were unable to refinance their debt. That was followed by claims that Quincy Jones would buy back the title he launched nearly two decades ago and sold to Wicks in 2006. The acquisition gives InterMedia more to market to advertisers targeting African-Americans. The Journal says the site and the magazine will be packaged with Uptown magazine; ads for the site will be sold by Blackrock Digital, and editorially, they’ll expand beyond the confines of hip hop.

::TECHNOLOGY NEWS::

Xbox Live Drops New Ways To Shop

Source:  www.thestar.com - Marc Saltzman, Special To The Star

(Aug 15, 2009) The more than 20 million gamers who hang out on Xbox Live – Microsoft's online network for the Xbox 360 – can now download an update that adds a host of new features, including Games on Demand, an Avatar Marketplace, Movie Parties and more.

Here's a brief look at each of the new additions, which launched this week:

Full Xbox 360 games are now available at the push of a button, including The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Burnout Paradise and BioShock. For now, the new Games on Demand features let you buy and play more than 30 titles, digitally distributed to the console, but new games will be released each Tuesday. All games can be paid for by credit card or Microsoft Points (now supporting PayPal).

Dress up your avatar, a customizable character that lives on Xbox Live, with the aid of the new Avatar Marketplace, an online shopping mall packed with outfits and accessories from fashion brands (Adidas, Quiksilver, Roxy, tokidoki, Steampunk) and video games (Halo 3, Fable II, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, Gears of War 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction). Along with new clothing and accoutrements (ranging from cellphones and light sabres to masks and basketballs), you can also earn avatar items by playing specific games.

Xbox Live Movie Parties let you watch a downloaded movie with friends and family sitting next door or on another continent. While the flick is playing you can chat about your favourite scenes (using text or voice) or have your avatars throw popcorn at the "screen" or snuggle up with another avatar (you know, that fake yawn-and-stretch move). Speaking of movies, Microsoft is promising a greater selection of films this fall, including instant-on 1080p streaming video with 5.1 surround-sound audio. Also coming soon: personalized digital radio stations and support for social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Get ready to Ride Fans of Tony Hawk skateboarding games can circle Nov. 17 on their calendars. That's the launch date for the next iteration in the franchise – and the first to ship with a dedicated peripheral.

As unveiled in this column a couple of months back, Tony Hawk: Ride for the Wii will allow gamers to pull off more than 100 tricks by stepping on a motion-sensing controller that resembles a skateboard without wheels.

Designed for players to control the entire game without a gamepad, this innovative peripheral features two tilt-sensing accelerometers and four infrared sensors.

The game includes four different modes – Challenge, Speed, Trick and Free Skate – set in many locations around the world.

Unlike EA's Skate It, which offered optional support for the Wii Balance Board, Tony Hawk: Ride will only ship with the skateboard in the box, and will cost gamers roughly $130 for the bundle.

::DANCE NEWS::

Staying Put In Stuttgart

Source: www.thestar.com - Susan Walker, Special to the Star

(August 18, 2009) It just isn't his time. Jason Reilly, one of the biggest stars of the Stuttgart Ballet, has decided that's where he has to stay.

The Toronto-born and trained ballet dancer was to have joined the National Ballet of Canada this fall, but the closer the time came to leave the German company he joined right after graduating from the National Ballet School in 1997, "the harder it became for me to say goodbye. I have been here for 12 years. (The company) has become my family and my home."

Karen Kain, artistic director of the National Ballet, graciously accepts Reilly's decision. "I have to respect his decision. He's obviously wrestled with it. Jason has to make the right decision for him. He has apologized and I have a lot of wonderful male dancers who also have international careers."

Reilly, 29, is currently in Toronto rehearsing for the male lead in the National Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty, having agreed to be a guest dancer with the company when the show is performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa next month. He will also perform Sleeping Beauty shows in the company's November season at the Four Seasons Centre.

He'll continue in Stuttgart as a first soloist and one of the brightest lights of that company. (In 2006 he was the winner of the Deutscher Tanzpreis Zukunft, awarded to most promising future dancer.)

"There is always the possibility that he will guest in the future," says Kain. "I hope we will have a long relationship with Jason; we have had already." Reilly was a stand-out Romeo in his latest guest appearance with the National Ballet. He has a bold stage presence and a youthful joie de vivre that makes him thrilling to watch.

He has danced all the major roles in the John Cranko repertoire at Stuttgart, including Onegin, Romeo and Juliet and Taming of the Shrew. As well, he's been an admirable Albrecht in Giselle, and shines in the contemporary repertoire of George Balanchine, Glen Tetley, Jerome Robbins, Jiri Kylian and Hans van Manen.

Reilly has been a star of the international gala circuit, a guest with the Royal Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and with companies in Japan, Korea, Verona, Helsinki, Leipzig and Santiago.

One factor that weighed in favour of his remaining in Stuttgart was a wish to continue guest dancing in Europe. Reilly feared that the expense of bringing him over from Canada would discourage future engagements overseas. "The whole thing about leaving Europe – I thought I was ready, but I wasn't."

He looks forward to further opportunities to guest with the National Ballet, stating that his artistic director, Reid Anderson, "is very cool with me working here."

Reilly declined to comment on his relationship with National Ballet first soloist Tina Pereira, whom he met when they performed Taming of the Shrew together.

Meanwhile, Kain is confident in her male dancers. "We still have a great roster of men who are committed to the company. As long as everyone remains healthy," she says, there will be strength to fill all the roles in the coming season, as the ballet struggles to rid itself of a recession-related deficit.

::SPORTS NEWS::

An Uplifting Of The Spirit

Source:  www.globeandmail.com - David Naylor

(Aug 16, 2009) Rochester, Alta. — In the summer of 2001, Melody and Pat Shologan were happily raising five active offspring on their 1,000-acre cattle ranch an hour's drive north of Edmonton, an area where highways cut through sprawling ranches and the blue sky seemingly spans hundreds of kilometres.

Their son Keith was a budding 15-year-old football star, already noted for the skills, size and strength that, this summer, eight years later, would enable him to earn a spot on the Saskatchewan Roughriders' defensive line. Keith's older brother Mark dived into the family's cattle business. Older sister Tara played volleyball. Then there were those two irrepressibly cute girls, Dana, 9, and Laura, 7, jumping on their trampoline, running around the ranch and latching on to Keith, who was closest to their age.

When the Shologans did something, they almost always did it together.

“If you got one of us, you got all of us,” says Pat, the father.

Everything changed on Sept. 29, 2001. Mark decided to drive the girls to St. Albert, where they were to meet friends and see a movie. The girls wanted Keith to go along too. Instead he gave them some liquorice and left the ranch 30 minutes later with his parents to watch Tara play volleyball.

The two cars drove along the same road, but after a while, a man stopped the parents' car and instructed them to take another route. Soupy fog had developed suddenly and the road ahead was blocked.

They were chilled by the knowledge that Mark and the girls had come through this way before.

“We called my brother and the first time [his cell] rang and went to his answering machine,” Keith says. “The second time it went straight to his answering machine. We prayed real hard. A couple of hours later, we were sitting there, watching the volleyball, and we saw some policemen come in [to the gym].

“And it was like my dad already knew.”

Ignoring the obvious danger, a driver of a pickup truck pulled out to pass another vehicle on the two-lane highway. The pickup hit Mark's SUV head-on. Though they were wearing seatbelts, Dana and Laura died instantly and Mark was injured so severely he needed four months in hospital to recover.

The driver of the pickup was uninjured. He was charged with criminal negligence and dangerous driving as the Shologans, the happy and religious rural family, were left to deal with the unimaginable.

Football had always been a fun part of their lives, a welcome diversion from the daily chores of ranching.

“I remember it was harvest time and it pre-empted harvest,” Pat says. “We had to go watch football. It was kind of a family tradition.”

In the aftermath of that gut-wrenching day, it became so much more. When Pat remembers those years today, he calls football a “safety valve.”

“When we lost our two little sisters, we grew a bond because we had to depend on each other emotionally a great deal because they were the only people who were truly going to be there for you,” Keith says. “We could have had a lot of malice and hatred for the guy who [drove the pickup]. … But we believed God would give us things to restart our life, and that's what we used football for.”

At the time of the accident, Keith was living near Edmonton to attend Spruce Grove Composite High School. After the funeral, he had to deal with an issue faced by everyone who loses a loved one: When is it okay?

“We were getting ready to get Keith back to school and he said to me, ‘Dad, what about football?’
.” Pat says. “And I looked at him and said, ‘You know what, God wants us to live our lives.’ And I said, ‘You get back and play football.’.

That Friday night, his coach kept him out of most of the first half, not sure whether he should send him onto the field. When he did get into the game, his team rallied from behind to win. And the Shologans, for the first time since the accident six days earlier, found a reason to smile.

“It was a tough one to show up at, but once I was there, everything else kind of went away,” Keith says. “My family, we’ve always used God to get through things and I think God put football in our path so we could get through it as a family. It kind of gave us a way not to get over it, but to kind of repair and heal.”

Pat suffered through some dark times after losing his two youngest daughters. But Keith called nightly from Spruce Grove, and they always talked football.

“It was an uplifting of the spirit,” Melody says. “We talked to Keith every night and if Pat had had a rough day or a draggy day, it was an encouragement to him and he always looked forward to it. It was really important to Pat. It was a release from reality. We knew that we had to be strong for Keith’s sake to support him.”

They also had to support Mark, who slowly regained strength to the point where he could join his family on the sidelines for Keith’s games. He was carried in a wheelchair and covered in blankets to keep warm; the sight of the teenager who’d come so close to death became a moment of inspiration for everyone.

“It was interesting,” Mark recalls, “because you had people who had known our family for a long time, so there was shock and awe and then elation. They were so happy that I was out and we were out as a family.

“That was one of the most important things. That we were dealing with things and moving through them.”

As the years have passed, the pain has never left the Shologans. But their support for each other and their faith in God has endured.

Keith worked as hard as ever to develop his talent, and became one of Canada’s most highly recruited high school players.

“When we were able to talk football and stuff like that, it was like, not a different world, but a world that didn’t seem to have the pain that we were living in and the pain was pretty tremendous,” Pat says.

Keith earned a scholarship at the University of Central Florida, where he started all four years and participated in two bowl games. The Roughriders picked him fourth overall in the 2008 CFL draft. He won a starting job this season as a defensive tackle.

Back home in Rochester, every Roughriders game is shared by his family, just as it was in those early days when his two young sisters were there to watch as well.

“It’s pretty exciting around here to watch Keith play football, knowing that our family is there taking part in it,” Pat says. “I don’t take any credit for getting through what we got through. We still have to walk with that every day, but we thank God for getting us through and certainly giving us something like football, because it’s been wonderful to watch and take part in Keith’s victory.”

Lopes-Schliep Keeps Focus On Way To Podium

Source: www.thestar.com – Randy Starkman

(August 19, 2009) Priscilla Lopes-Schliep climbed up a rung on the podium from the Olympics, capturing a silver today in the women’s 100-metre hurdles to claim Canada’s first medal at the world track and field championships in Berlin. (See the race here.)

Lopes-Schliep the Olympic bronze medalist and pride of Whitby, apparently ran into problems after winning her semi-final earlier in the day as she was taken into dope testing and she wrote on her Twitter account that officials weren’t letting her out for the warm-up.

But she obviously maintained her cool because she got off to a great start and battled to the finish line with Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica, who at 34 finally won a big one in 12.54 seconds, 3/100ths of a second ahead of Lopes-Schliep.

Former world champion Perdita Felicien had a terrible race, getting into trouble at the first hurdle and knocking down the second and third. She appeared to be labouring after that and finished last in 15.53 seconds.

Lopes-Schliep, who has been a force on the international circuit all season, looked delighted with her finish, grabbing a Canadian flag afterwards and holding it aloft while taking a lap.

Foster-Hylton was absolutely ecstatic. A perennial bridesmaid through an impressive career, she waited to see the official confirmation before celebrating because she knew Lopes-Schliep was right there with her. When the confirmation came up on the scoreboard, she had a fit, jumping up and down and leaping right into Lopes-Schliep’s arms.

Foster-Hylton looked remarkably relaxed in Lane 3 just before the start of the race, clowning with the crowd when her name was announced. Felicien, beside her in Lane 3, appeared stressed by comparison.

Lopes-Schliep and Felicien had powered their way into the finals.

Lopes-Schliep got off to a great start in the semi-finals and seemed to ease off about midday through the race before taking it up another gear to win the first heat convincingly in 12.60. Delloreen Ennis-London of Jamaica was second in the heat in 12.64.

Lopes-Schliep looked extremely sharp heading into the worlds, winning a big meet a few weeks ago in Stockholm against all of the top competitors in a time of 12.51 seconds. Felicien was fifth in 12.65.

She cemented her position as Canada’s top hurdler through the season, posting a 7-3 record in terms of finishing ahead of Felicien in races where both were entered.

Felicien, who missed last season and the Olympics because of a foot injury, had made a strong and steady comeback and the highlight was probably at the Canadian championships when she upset Lopes-Schliep to win in 12.80 seconds. Lopes-Schliep had her slowest race of the season in 12.95.

The only other time Canada had two hurdlers in a final at a worlds or Olympics was at the 2004 Athens Games, where Felicien crashed into the first hurdle and Angela Whyte of Edmonton finished sixth in the race.

Venus Williams Upset At Rogers Cup

Source: www.thestar.com - Kevin Mcgran, Sports Reporter

(August 18, 2009) Venus Williams crashed out of the Rogers Cup, the first upset this week at the $2 million tournament.

Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko, the world's 64th ranked player, beat Williams – the third seed – in a gruelling afternoon match.

Williams, who has never won a main draw match in Canada, was disheartened afterward, but tried to put a positive spin on the outcome.

"I have to take it as a positive, to have more time to prepare for the (U.S.) Open," said Williams. "I haven't really had any luck at this tournament.

"I was definitely expecting to play well and go far in the tournament. It's definitely disappointing."

Bondarenko advanced with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory at the Rexall Centre.

"I started to return her serve and it made a big difference," said Bondarenko, who built momentum as the match went on. "I just played my game and tried to dig deep."

The tournament still has plenty of star power with the other seeded players in contention.

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, the 11th ranked player in the world, beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, a qualifier, in a morning match.

But the 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision was anything but easy.

"I was trying to play a little bit too safe," said Ivanovic. "She's a good player, and she was playing aggressive and dominant. I tried to change, and hit the way I was practicing and it worked out well.

"The second and third set, I played really well."

Ivanovic kicked herself for coming out too slow in the first set. It wasn't until a cross-court winner early in the second set that momentum swung.

"At that moment I got my momentum back," said Ivanovic. "That was the kind of game I should have played from the start."